Militia leader Larry Mitchell Hopkins should remain behind bars pending his trial on a federal weapons charge, a judge ruled Monday.
US Magistrate Judge Karen B. Mozen ordered that Hopkins remain detained because “clear and convincing evidence” indicated “no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community.” The judge listed a number of additional factors as reasons for her decision, including Hopkins’ use of aliases, his criminal history, his prior failure to appear in court as ordered, his probation violations and his association with the United Constitutional Patriots militia group.
Hopkins is charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. He pleaded not guilty at a hearing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Monday and requested release from custody, according to court records. The judge denied that request.
Monday’s hearing was delayed after authorities evacuated the courthouse for a time because of what the US Marshals Service later described as a safety issue.
“The FBI and US Marshals Service are continuing to investigate the matter,” said Joy Josephson, spokeswoman for the Marshals Service.
Hopkins, 69, has been detained since his arrest on April 20. If he’s convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
His arrest came more than 17 months after FBI agents searched his residence, but just days after the militia group he leads drew widespread attention, condemnation from the American Civil Liberties Union and criticism from state authorities in New Mexico for detaining migrants at the border.
During a November 2017 search, according to an FBI special agent’s affidavit filed in court, the agents found nine firearms and ammunition. Because Hopkins had previously been convicted of several felonies, including impersonating an officer in Oregon in 2006, he was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, according to the complaint.
Last week authorities said he’d been attacked at the New Mexico jail where he was in custody after his arrest.
In a letter to jail officials after the alleged attack, Hopkins’ attorney said his client had been “jumped and beaten by fellow detainees.”
“Mr. Hopkins’ case is certainly high profile and he has developed a controversial reputation because of his border activities,” attorney Kelly O’Connell wrote. “Further, there is undoubtedly a great deal of resentment and even fury at him in some inmates because of how he has been portrayed in the media and his overall exposure.”
Speaking to reporters after a court hearing last week, O’Connell said the guns and ammunition FBI agents found at Hopkins’ house didn’t belong to him.
CNN’s Chris Boyette and Darran Simon contributed to this report.