On Monday evening, two members of the American militia movement, Charles Carter and Vincent Smith, got into an argument at Smith’s house, in the small Texas town of Pottsboro, just across the border from Oklahoma. The argument turned violent: Smith shot Carter in the head, killing him.
Mandy Sulser, Carter’s girlfriend, told Gawker by phone this morning that police said the incident was “possible self defense, but that they are investigating further.” Carter and Sulser had recently moved into an RV on Smith’s property, the Sherman Denison Herald Democrat reported, after pawning all of their belongings and ending up homeless:
Through a Facebook friend, Sulser and Mr. Carter were put in touch with Smith, who helped Mr. Carter buy back his belongings from a pawnshop. Sulser said Smith spent more than $1,000 helping them get back their things. Ultimately Mr. Carter and Sulser came to live in a motor home on Smith’s property.
“It was a great start,” Sulser said. “And it had all been great up until a week or so ago. Tensions were getting high and tense between not only me and Vincent, but between Charles and Vincent. And it’s like the more Charles would try the more tense it got from Vincent.”
The two men were co-organizers of the “Paul Revere Liberty March,” or the “Paul Revere 2016 Final March to Restore America.” One possible reason for the tension, Sulser suggested to the Herald Democrat, was a dispute over control of the group’s Facebook page.
On the Liberty March’s website—which includes a section on the “rules of engagement” (“Coming soon”), as well as tips on “Water Purification For Preppers” and constitutional law—Smith describes the movement as “a march/caravan starting from multiple points on the west coast, and advancing across America gathering steam and troops, with its final destination Washington DC and Final Aim at removing the corrupt leadership that has taken over our beloved country and ousted her God and constitution.”
“It will be advertised that we will do this thing ‘As peacefully as possible’ But we will not be turned away,” Smith writes [sic. throughout]. “i Swear to God when we are done restoring America we will reach out to our brothers and sisters world wide and save them from the Tyrannical threat that at this moment is consuming them. I speak of Europe, Australia, and the entire western and third world.”
Smith has not been charged with a crime. “At the end of the investigation, all the collected information will be turned over to the district attorney and they will make the determination about whether charges will be filed against Mr. Smith,” Lt. Sarah Bigham said. However, News 12 KXII reports that friends have claimed the men were arguing drunkenly over a gun.
Many of the messages written on the Paul Revere Facebook page seem to be attributed to several different people, but one, posted two days after the shooting, appears to have been written by Smith himself:
I am struggling, I am grieving, I am in so much pain i dont know how i will go on. If i could go back in time and change it i would surely do so. I will struggle with this to the end of my days. Lord i look to you for your guidance, give me strength, give me understanding. Charles Carter my brother Rest in Peace There were other choices my friend, you gave me none. I am glad to be alive, but i am not glad you are gone. In Jesus holy name i pray. Amen
Carter himself alluded to tensions in the movement, in a video uploaded to Facebook two days before his death. “There’s a lot of people in the patriot movement right now that are fighting with each other. A house divided’s not gonna stand,” Carter said. “If you’ve got something negative to say, keep it to yourself. I don’t care who started it. It’s like a bunch of children fighting with each other. It’s a division in our own ranks. That’s a problem.”
The idea for the march, one man, Everest Wilhelmsen (who previously sought financial support to assassinate President Obama) wrote on the Facebook group, came from a member of the Christian American Patriots Militia.
“The idea for the march/convoy beginning on the west coast and gaining steam and troops as it headed to DC came from a member of Christian American Patriots Militia,” Wilhelmsen wrote. “I then communicated the idea to Vincent Smith and Charles Carter on December 22, 2015. We all thought it to be a great idea and decided to move with the idea immediately.”
“Personally, I do not believe that what has happened should put an end to the march to restore America this spring,” he added. “Despite the reports that Charles was intoxicated and that his friend acted in self- defense, I have decided to change the name of the march/convoy to DC to ‘Charles Carter 2016 March To Restore America.’”
“In the short time that I knew Charles, he revealed himself to me as a true God fearing Patriot who was highly motivated to restore our Republic and working hard to prepare the march/convoy on DC this spring. In our few chats on Facebook he repeatedly called me his ‘brother’. And that is what he is to me—a brother.”
As of this morning, the Paul Revere March appeared to have been cancelled. Attempts to contact the page’s administrator, whoever it is, have not been successful. “I can’t disclose anything further, but I can tell you that the man that shot him has lawyered up,” Sulser, Carter’s girlfriend, told Gawker. “So read into that what you want.”
Update – 1:00 pm
“No the March has not been canceled!” Glen Estes, who identified himself as the march’s new leader, told Gawker in a Facebook message. “We roll on.”