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Suspect in North Idaho pursuit, shootout appears in court

Sean L. Anderson was arrested last week after police say he led officers on a pursuit and exchanged gunfire with them.
Credit: KTVB file photo
Sean L. Anderson

LEWISTON, Idaho — A former participant in an armed occupation in 2016 at an Oregon wildlife refuge appeared in court this week after he was arrested and charged with felony aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer during a shootout in northern Idaho earlier this month.

Sean L. Anderson, 52, appeared at his initial hearing online through the Idaho Supreme Court website from the New Perce County Jail on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Jeff P. Payne, The Lewiston Tribune reported.

Anderson was arrested July 23 after a police pursuit and shootout July 18 following an attempted traffic stop for an apparent equipment violation.

Police said he led authorities on a pursuit lasting about 30 miles (48 kilometers), from Kamiah to Ferdinand, Idaho. The pursuit ended when the vehicle stopped in a residential area and shots were fired.

An Idaho State Police investigation revealed that Anderson called the Idaho County sheriff’s office before being stopped and allegedly threatened to shoot officers if they tried to stop him. Authorities say Anderson then opened fire and four officers returned fire, hitting him. No officers were injured.

Anderson was taken to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston and later moved to Providence Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. He was arrested by Spokane City Police after being released from the hospital, and waived extradition to be returned to Idaho on Tuesday.

RELATED: Idaho County man charged after chase, shootout with law enforcement

A public defender law firm was appointed to represent Anderson, who said he could not afford an attorney and currently has no job.

He faces a maximum 25 years in prison if convicted.

The criminal information revealed that the Lewis County deputy who Anderson allegedly threatened was Walter Wilkinson. None of the other officers involved have been identified.

Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said a deputy from his department had been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

Giddings confirmed Anderson was one of the last four holdouts during the 41-day armed occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, along with Ammon Bundy of Emmett, Idaho.

Anderson joined occupiers who were protesting what they said was the federal government taking over private land in the area.

He pleaded guilty to trespass and was sentenced to a year of probation and fined $1,000 in restitution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

RELATED: Idaho suspect in shootout, pursuit ID'd as Ammon Bundy ally

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