Chief: Physical evidence ties Mickel to cop killing

The arrest of a Washington man in the recent killing of a Red Bluff police officer seems only to have deepened the mystery surrounding the crime, as the suspect’s apparent Internet confession claimed a political motive for the shooting.

Police and FBI agents arrested Andrew Hampton Mickel, 23, of Olympia, Wash., after a three-hour standoff at a Holiday Inn in Concord, N.H., last Tuesday. Mickel, also known as Andrew McCrae, was traced to Concord by FBI agents last Monday after he e-mailed and posted at least two political rants on several Internet discussion groups claiming he’d killed Red Bluff Police Officer Dave Mobilio, 31, to protest “police brutality and unjust laws.”

Mobilio was shot early Nov. 19 as he was fueling his patrol car at a gas station on the outskirts of Red Bluff. Investigators are releasing very little information about the circumstances of the shooting, but it is known from an affidavit filed in Concord that Mobilio was shot three times, twice in the left side and once in the head at close range. His memorial service last week attracted about 2,500 mourners, including members of law enforcement from all over the state, as well as Gov. Gray Davis.

Mickel, an ex-Army private who is currently registered at Evergreen State University in Olympia, claimed responsibility for the shooting in an e-mail to 14 political Web sites Oct. 22.

“We apologize to the family and friends of the Police Officer that we killed in Red Bluff, California,” the e-mail states. It goes on to blame “the foot soldiers of law enforcement” for a variety of social ills.

Red Bluff Police Chief Robert Petitt said Mickel was the prime suspect. While there seems to be little that would link Mickel to Red Bluff, Petitt indicated that evidence found both at the crime scene and at Mickel’s apartment in Olympia tied him to the killing. Police are also looking for Mickel’s red or maroon 1992 Ford Mustang, displaying Washington plates reading 595 NAB.

Mickel apparently wanted to be caught. Petitt said Tuesday that Mickel had called his parents and told them he killed officer Mobilio. His parents called police in their home town of Springfield, Ohio, who called investigators in Red Bluff.

Mickel’s parents said by phone that they had talked to their son the day before the shooting, but they indicated nothing unusual had come up in that conversation. Stanley Mickel, a professor at Wittenberg University, read from a prepared statement, saying the Mickels loved their son but denounced his alleged actions.

In a screed posted to discussion sites affiliated with San Francisco’s Independent Media Center the day before his arrest, Mickel claimed immunity, stating that he had incorporated himself and was thus, as a corporate officer, not legally liable for the killing. In a long diatribe against corporations, the U.S. government and the World Trade Organization, McCrae claimed his actions were a protest of “corporate irresponsibility” and urged readers to “join us as we prepare to take america INTO A NEW FUTURE HORIZON!”

Mickel had filed incorporation papers in two states prior to the killing, setting up a company called “Proud and Insolent Youth, Inc.” The phrase is a reference to a scene in the classic novel Peter Pan, in which villainous pirate Captain Hook duels with the protagonist Peter Pan.

In his Internet posting, Mickel wrote, “Peter Pan hates pirates, and I hate pirates, and corporations are nothing but a bunch of pirates. It’s time to send them to a watery grave, and rip them completely out of our lives.”

Mickel, who also confessed his crime to a Concord reporter before surrendering to police, is being held in Merrimack County Jail on charges of murdering a police officer. If convicted, he could get life without parole or the death penalty, should prosecutors seek it. His next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 26, when his lawyers are expected to fight extradition to California.

A supervisor at the jail, where Mickel is being held in isolation from the other prisoners, said Mickel was behaving in an uncooperative manner and was refusing to wear standard-issue jail clothing. Mickel, who reportedly insists that he is a political prisoner, was seen in his video arraignment wearing nothing but a green jail blanket and a bandage around his head. He was apparently injured in a scuffle with police when he refused to don jail clothes.