'Patriot' leader arrested in Alamosa

A self-styled right-wing militia leader who had come to the San Luis Valley to rile up a revolution left in police custody. From the Alamosa Valley Courier.

A man who characterized himself as the leader of a patriot group, who recently held a series of increasingly contentious meetings with beleaguered Costilla County landowners, was arrested on an outstanding warrant on Sunday night.

Rodger Marsh, 48, was arrested without incident at the Grizzly Inn in Alamosa at around 8 p.m. on Sunday by officers from the Colorado State Patrol and Alamosa Police Department. Marsh was wanted on a warrant from Tarrant County, Texas, for a probation violation for theft.

Two children, ages 5 and 6, who were with Marsh in the motel, were released to the Department of Human Services. Marsh will be extradited back to Texas to face charges, according to a press release from the Colorado State Patrol. Until then, he is being held in the Alamosa County Jail.

Marsh had two other active warrants: one for child neglect from Franklin County, Indiana, and one for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol from Cassia County, Idaho. Neither of the warrants was extraditable from Colorado.

"With the joint efforts, and teamwork of all the agencies involved Rodger was taken into custody without incident," the Costilla County Sheriff's Office stated.

In online videos, Marsh, who sometimes went by the name "Colt Severs," called himself the co-founder of "Operation Patriot Rally Point," a right-wing patriot group. An Indiegogo fundraiser page posted by the group in 2013 says they are based in Roswell, New Mexico.

A Facebook page for Rodger Marsh says he resides in Tucson, Arizona, though the State Patrol press release says Marsh's home is Hermosa, South Dakota. Marsh claims to own seven acres in the Colorado mountains.

According to the fundraiser page, Operation Patriot Rally Point, or OPRP, says its mission is "to bring back to the American people hope and a renewed patriotic flame which has been all but extinguished in the United States by the far left agenda undermining the founding principles and concepts of our nation."

Marsh turned his attention to Costilla County in early October, where longtime residents, county officials, and more recently-arrived residents who live on subdivided acreage southwest of San Luis are engaged in a protracted controversy over the alleged selective enforcement of land use codes.

Many of the recent arrivals say they desire to live "off the grid," meaning without a connection to public utilities, and are often called "off-the-gridders."

Marsh held several meetings with Costilla County residents, repeatedly promising to bring a Denver-based judge to Costilla County to hear their grievances and take action against what they call unjust code enforcement.

In videos posted to San Luis Valley Just Us, a Facebook group that functions as a lively community message board for the off-the-gridders, Marsh is shown addressing frustrated residents.

In one video, Marsh says he has contacted either a Supreme Court or Superior Court judge, who he says will come to Costilla County accompanied by U.S. Marshalls and other officials, though he says he's not sure exactly who will be coming because "I'm not one of those legal persons. I know about the Constitution and how this all happened because of my studying, but I'm not one of those legal eagles. I'm a trigger puller."

Numerous posts on the Facebook group expressed ambivalence about Marsh's goals and claims, with several off-the-gridders wary of involvement with militant far-right patriot groups, and others casting doubt on Marsh's claims of judicial involvement.

Chloe Everhart, the creator of the Facebook group who has become a visible and often-cited source of information for the off-the-gridders, posted documentation to the group on October 9 purporting to show that the "judge" was actually a member of a "sovereign citizen" group and had no legal credentials.

The meeting with the "judge," held on October 16 at a home near the Lobato Bridge over the Rio Grande, appears to have turned heated after Marsh demanded that audience members stop using audio or video recording devices.

A flurry of posts to the Facebook group following the meeting suggest many attendees were put off by Marsh and the "judge."

Many users of the Facebook group expressed relief at Marsh's arrest.

"Good, I was really worried about this guy," posted Facebook user John Spounias. "I have not talked to a single 'off grid' person who agreed with him, but knowing he was around was unsettling."