MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio - Sources connected to NewsChannel 5 said the Middleburg Heights man that sheriffs deputies fatally shot Tuesday while serving a search warrant may have been a sovereign citizen. A sovereign citizen is someone who holds complex anti-government beliefs and doesn’t follow the law.
“I know he was a good man,” said Edna Rondon, sister of Israel Rondon, the victim. “He wasn’t a criminal.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s office said Rondon was a fugitive, wanted for assaulting a police officer and failing to have a conceal carry permit. When the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s deputies served a warrant on the 65-year-old, officials said Rondon came outside and fired shots instead. Those deputies returned fire, killing Rondon.
“They shot through his head,” said Migdalia Rondon, Rondon’s sister.
Sources said the markings on Rondon’s house are prompting officials to believe he was a sovereign citizen. Each corner of the foundation and his cars were spray painted with “Title 18 1581-241 USC.” The numbers are U.S. code that addresses civil rights and conspiracy.
“General public should not necessarily be concerned of sovereign citizens as a whole but the general public does have a right to be concerned about any segment of our society that brings violence, exercises violence and break federal and state laws,” said Jake Ruddy, acting supervisory special agent for the FBI’s Cleveland division.
Ruddy said sovereign citizens exist locally and around the country. In 2010, a father and son, one of whom was from Chester, Ohio, shot and killed two police officers during a traffic stop. The pair were sovereign citizens.
Rondon’s sisters said their brother didn’t believe police followed the constitution – a document he knew very well. But they said Rondon was not violent, rather a smart, nice man.
“I know my brother, I know my brother,” said Edna Rondon.
Rondon had prior criminal and civil convictions having to do with concealed weapons and driving with a suspended license.