Freddy Crisp, 48, of Pomeroy, is charged with first-degree murder for the death of a North Dakota militiaman last week. Crisp allegedly shot the man in the back of the head during a drunken political argument.
Freddy Crisp, 48, of Pomeroy, is charged with first-degree murder for the death of a North Dakota militiaman last week. Crisp allegedly shot the man in the back of the head during a drunken political argument.
ROCKWELL CITY

A 48-year-old Pomeroy man allegedly shot a fellow militiaman in the back of his head with a handgun last week as they argued about politics.

Freddy Crisp was arrested Wednesday for first-degree murder for the shooting death of Dale Potter, 41, of Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, on Nov. 10.

Potter had stopped to visit Crisp on his way to Indiana, according to Calhoun County Attorney Tina Meth-Farrington. The men knew each other because they are involved with Midwestern militias, she said.

“They consumed a lot of alcohol that day and got into a disagreement,” Meth-Farrington said. “Mr. Potter ended up dead in Mr. Crisp’s pickup truck.

“They have some very different beliefs about the world. Their beliefs didn’t mix.”

Potter was among a group of militiamen from all over the country who went last year to Nevada to aid a rancher, Cliven Bundy, with his public fight with the federal government over the rancher’s refusal to pay to graze his cattle on public property. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management briefly confiscated the rancher’s cattle but relented when the heavily armed militiamen attempted to take the animals back.

Potter stood sentry at the ranch’s entrance with a high-powered rifle for a time.

“We’re all here for the long haul, if the BLM wants to drag this out six months, 12 months, two years,” he told the Las Vegas Sun in April 2014. “If they want to end it tomorrow, we’re here until the population feels safe enough for us to leave.”

Potter told the newspaper he was a militia organizer with the North Dakota Defense Force. Crisp’s militia affiliation wasn’t immediately clear.

Crisp called 911 about 2 a.m. Nov. 10 to report that Potter was shot in Crisp’s pickup truck as it sat in his driveway in the 200 block of Second Street in Pomeroy. In interviews with local and state investigators, Crisp has told different stories about what happened that night, Meth-Farrington said.

Crisp told investigators he called 911 just after the shooting, but Meth-Farrington could not confirm that the shooting happened in the man’s driveway as he claims.

“We’re just looking at circumstantial evidence, trying to put together how it happened,” she said. “Some of the evidence matches some of his stories, but ultimately, in the end, how it happened isn’t clear.”

Crisp had an initial court appearance in Rockwell City this morning, in which a judge set his bail at $1 million.

Crisp questioned the steep bail and asked the judge to instead put him on house arrest with an ankle-mounted tracking device.

“If I was a flight risk, I would have been gone the second it happened,” Crisp told the judge. “I’d have to look over my shoulder for the rest of my life. That’s no way to live.”

Crisp said he is a military veteran. He works as part of an unspecified local labor union and has seven family members in his house, according to his request for a court-appointed attorney.

A woman who was in the courtroom gallery and voiced support for Crisp declined to tell the Daily Times Herald what specifically the men had argued about before last week’s fatal shooting.

“I only have two words for you,” she said after the court hearing and raised the middle finger on her right hand.

She declined to comment further.

Crisp is held in Sac County Jail.