- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal agents helped search for hidden explosive devices Thursday in the neighboring St. Louis homes of a man described as an increasingly agitated anti-government extremist who wanted to kill or maim police with booby traps.

The search, at times involving bomb-sniffing dogs and robots, came after David Michael Hagler was charged with several federal gun counts. It wasn’t clear what, if any, explosives were found or how long the search would take. There were no reports of any explosions related to the search.

Hagler made a brief court appearance Wednesday and was assigned to be represented by a public defender, who did not immediately return a message Thursday seeking comment. Hagler remains jailed without bond.

Ankur Patel, a St. Louis-based FBI agent, wrote that two informants - longtime Hagler friends - told law enforcers since mid-February that Hagler’s anti-government views were intensifying, accounting for his stockpile of assault-style rifles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

One of the informants, unidentified in court documents, described the 53-year-old Hagler as a near-genius, anarchist “Rambo” or “Mountain Man” type, trying “to exist completely off the grid,” Patel wrote in an affidavit included with the criminal complaint.

Hagler’s home has no utilities and is heated by a wood-burning stove, with solar panels and gasoline generators supplying the electricity. His water supply came from a large container mounted in the back of a truck parked behind his home, replenishing it from a local filling station, Patel wrote.

Patel wrote that Hagler’s animus was fueled by his hatred for the wife he divorced about 30 years ago, racial unrest in nearby Ferguson following last August’s shooting death of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer, and his belief he would lose his properties to the city for not paying taxes.

The informants told investigators in recent weeks that Hagler routinely practiced escaping from handcuffs by hiding a key to them on his body or by swallowing and regurgitating it, Patel wrote. Hagler also fortified his home’s interior walls and windows with metal plating to ward off potential bullets, with an underground tunnel linking the basements of his two homes.

One informant saw Hagler with a book opened up to a section that described the construction of a “foot-tripped booby trap,” Patel wrote. Hagler told that informant he “would love to see a policeman walk on one of those,” according to Patel’s affidavit.

The other informant told investigators that Hagler “indicated he had (explosive) surprises all over his yard,” Patel wrote.

Hagler also said he would like to kill multiple police officers, perhaps with attacks on a police funeral, memorial mass for law enforcers, or on an event involving a local charity for survivors of fallen first responders, Patel wrote.

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