Jakubowski was 'living off the grid' during nationwide manhunt

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Margaret Plevak | April 14, 2017

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Joseph A. Jakubowski, the 32-year-old Janesville man suspected of robbing a gun shop and mailing a 161-page manifesto railing against the government to President Donald Trump, had been attempting to "live off the grid," during his time on the run.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, April 14, 2017, at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville, Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden said Jakubowski had been found under a tarp in “very primitive conditions,” looking disheveled and sleep-deprived.

Jakubowski was arrested shortly before 6 a.m. Friday, ending a nationwide manhunt stretching into more than a week.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo said a tip from a farmer on Estes Road in Readstown, near the Vernon and Richland county lines, reported a suspicious-looking man matching Jakubowski's description camping on his property to authorities. The farmer had confronted the man Thursday night, asking him to leave, but the man refused.

Spoden said Jakubowski had indicated to the farmer who confronted him that he “wanted to be off the grid.”

Among the items found at the campsite were four handguns, one long gun, multiple boxes of ammunition, containers of flammable liquids and a copy of the manifesto.

Spoden said he is not sure how Jakubowski traveled to Readstown, 125 miles northwest of Janesville.

He said Jakubowski had sent out about 25 copies of his manifesto to various people.

Local and federal authorities said cooperation among agencies and citizens made the arrest possible.

Tolomeo counted 18 local, six state and two federal law enforcement agencies working on the investigation.

Arrangements are being made for Jakubowski to be returned first to Madison for an initial hearing Friday afternoon in federal court, where he will be facing federal weapons charges. Tolomeo said additional charges are being considered.

Jakubowski will then be transported to Rock County for further investigation and charges. A criminal complaint issued earlier charged Jakubowski with three counts: Burglary- Arming Self with a Dangerous Weapon; Felony Theft-Special Facts; and Possession of Burglarious Tools.

Tolomeo said while the investigation is ongoing, Jakubowski posed no other credible threat in the state.

Jakubowski is suspected of stealing 18 handguns and rifles from Armageddon Supplies, a Janesville gun shop on April 4, and threatening to use them on government officials or a school. Police believe shortly after the burglary, Jakubowski set fire to his car and then vanished.

Authorities said his rambling manifesto didn't include specific targets, but the threats to carry out violent acts were concern enough to bring the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other federal and state law enforcement agencies into the manhunt.

Tolomeo said a letter purporting to be from Jakubowski threatening churches in the Sussex area on Easter Sunday, April 16, was likely a hoax.

The FBI issued a $20,000 reward for information leading to Jakubowski's arrest, and authorities are currently determining if the farmer will be the reward recipient.

Spoden said he believed Jakubowski had a plan that started with writing the document and breaking into the gun shop to steal weapons.

“The concern that we had was what was his end game? How did he envision this ending for him and community?” Spoden said. “He had overall anger towards the government, towards religion, to the police.”

At the press conference, local and federal law enforcement authorities said they were grateful for a safe resolution to a public safety threat.

“What could have happened was a mass shooting,” said Janesville Police Chief David Moore. “That was our concern. It was truly a very Good Friday for Janesville.”

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