Gordon Kahl was born in Wells County, North Dakota, on January 8, 1920. Kahl had one sister, Loreen, who died in 1937 at the age of seven. Raised on a farm, Kahl was a highly decorated turret gunner during World War II. After the war, "he had a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm near Heaton, Wells County, North Dakota, [but] bounced around the Texas oilfields in later life as a mechanic and general worker."
In 1967, Kahl wrote a letter to the Internal Revenue Service stating that he would no longer pay taxes to the, in his words, "Synagogue of Satan under the 2nd plank of the Communist Manifesto." During the 1970s, Kahl organized the first Texas chapter of the Posse Comitatus. In 1976 he appeared on a Texas television program stating that the income tax was illegal and encouraging others not to pay their income taxes.
On November 16, 1976, Kahl was charged with willful failure to file Federal income tax returns for the years 1973 and 1974, under 26 U.S.C. § 7203. He was convicted on each count in respective April and June, 1977, and was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of $2,000. Kahl served eight months in prison in 1977. One year of the sentence was suspended, as was the fine, and the court placed Kahl on probation for five years. Kahl appealed his conviction, but the conviction was affirmed in 1978 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, after Kahl's release from prison on probation.
Following his parole from prison, Kahl became active in the township movement, an early version of the sovereign citizen movement belief which later became well known because of the Montana Freemen standoff. This movement sought to form parallel courts and governments purportedly based on English common law, and to withdraw recognition of the U.S. federal government. Township movement supporters as well as the Posse Comitatus attempted to organize among farmers in the American Midwest during the 1980s farm crisis.
On February 13, 1983, U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest Kahl for violating his parole as he was leaving a Posse Comitatus meeting in Medina, North Dakota. In the car with Kahl were his wife Joan, his son Yorivon, and three others who had been at the meeting. According to Scott Faul's testimony, both Gordon Kahl and Yorivon Kahl were armed with Ruger Mini-14 rifles. The conflict began when federal marshals created a road block a few miles north of Medina. When the Kahl party met the marshals at the roadblock, a short but intense firefight erupted. The gun battle left US Marshals Kenneth Muir and Robert Cheshire dead, and US Marshal Jim Hopson, Medina Police Department Officer Steve Schnabel, and Stutsman County Deputy Bradley Kapp injured. Yorivon Kahl was also wounded during the firefight. The Kahl party fired over a dozen rounds during the gunfight, while the marshals and officers fired eight. Three lawmen fired their weapons during the confrontation, and only one, US Marshal Carl Wigglesworth, escaped the gunfight unharmed by hiding in a ditch.
According to the US Marshals Service, the Kahl party was traveling north out of Medina in two vehicles. Deputy Bradley Kapp and US Marshals Robert Cheshire and Jim Hopson followed the Kahl party from behind, while Medina police officer Steven Schnabel and US Marshals Kenneth Muir and Carl Wigglesworth moved south towards Medina in two cars to intercept the Kahl party. At one point, the Kahl party took a wrong turn off of a highway. As they attempted to back out, Cheshire blocked their escape with his vehicle, while Marshal Muir and Officer Schnabel blocked the Kahls from the north. It was then that the arrest attempt was made. The lawmen exited the vehicles with their weapons drawn, and ordered Kahl to surrender. Gordon Kahl, his son Yorivon, and friend Scott Faul exited their vehicles armed with Ruger Mini-14 rifles. Gordon took cover behind his vehicle, Yorivon took cover behind a telephone pole, and Scott Faul ran from the highway towards a set of trees, seeking better cover. US Marshal Wigglesworth ran after Faul, and attempted to cut him off, but became stuck in a thick swamp. Meanwhile, Cheshire attempted to get Kahl to surrender, but Kahl refused, and told the marshals to "back off". The tense standoff continued for several more minutes before a shot was abruptly fired by one of the men.
The US Marshals Service stated that Yorivon Kahl fired the first shot at Cheshire from behind a telephone pole. The shot struck Cheshire in the chest, fatally wounding him. Yorivon then fired a second shot at Deputy Bradley Kapp but missed. Kapp returned fire with a shotgun and fired four times at Yorivon, seriously wounding him in the chest and face. As Kapp turned from the downed Yorivon, Gordon fired at least one round through the windshield of Kapp's vehicle, wounding Kapp in the forehead with glass fragments. As Kapp fell behind his car door, Gordon fired two or three more times, and a round struck and shattered Kapp's body armor. The fatally wounded Cheshire managed to fire off three rounds from his AR-15, all of which missed. Meanwhile, Scott Faul, taking cover in the nearby woods, fired at least seven rounds at Kapp and Cheshire's vehicle. One of Faul's shots hit the already wounded Cheshire a second time, and a bullet blew off Kapp's index finger. A third shot hit the pavement, and a piece of asphalt struck Marshal Hopson in the ear, causing Hopson to suffer permanent brain damage. Wounded and out of ammunition, Kapp retreated to a ditch, but was unable to reload his shotgun due to the wound in his hand. With Kapp down, Gordon turned to face US Marshal Kenneth Muir and Medina police officer Steve Schnabel, just as Muir fired off one round from a .38 caliber revolver. Muir's shot hit the already wounded Yorivon Kahl square in the chest, but the bullet struck a revolver Yorivon wore on a shoulder holster, and therefore did not enter his heart. Before Muir could fire another shot, Kahl fired one round from his rifle at Muir, killing the marshal with a shot to the chest. Schnabel tried to return fire with his shotgun, but Gordon fired three more rounds at the officer as he tried to aim his weapon. One shot ricocheted, striking Schnabel in the back of the leg. The wounded Schnabel retreated to the side of the road and took cover in a ditch. The entire firefight lasted about 30 seconds.
Kahl then moved towards Cheshire's vehicle. As Kahl approached, the wounded Kapp decided to flee and began running south, back towards Medina. Kahl chose not to shoot the fleeing officer, and instead turned to the fatally wounded Cheshire, who was trying to climb back inside his vehicle. Seeing that Cheshire was still alive, Kahl killed the dying marshal with two more shots to the head. Gordon Kahl then walked over to Muir and Schnabel's vehicles as Scott Faul tended to the wounded Yorivon Kahl. Moving to the side of the road, Kahl approached and confronted the wounded Schnabel, but chose not to kill him. After taking Schnabel's shotgun and revolver, Kahl then took Schnabel's police car and, after leaving the wounded Yorivon Kahl at a Medina health clinic, fled to Arkansas. Kahl abandoned the stolen police car just outside of Medina. Yorivon Kahl was immediately arrested after being treated at the clinic, while Scott Faul turned himself in to police.
Following the gun battle, Kahl became a wanted fugitive by the FBI, and both local and federal authorities organized a massive manhunt. Several days after the Medina shootout, a SWAT team surrounded Kahl's farmhouse in Heaton, North Dakota. Unaware that the farmhouse had been abandoned, the SWAT team fired hundreds of shots into the home, killing Kahl's dog, and saturated the house with tear gas. After entering the house, the SWAT team found no sign of Kahl, but discovered numerous weapons, ammunition, and white supremacist literature printed by the Posse Comitatus.
A tip was received by authorities from the youngest daughter of a property owner, whose land Leonard Ginter and his wife Norma Ginter lived on. Kahl hid in their earth-bermed passive solar home in Smithville, Arkansas. Another shootout ensued on June 3, 1983, in which Kahl and Lawrence County Sheriff Harold Gene Matthews died. After FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, Arkansas State Police and local police arrived at the Ginter home, Sheriff Matthews entered the home along with Deputy U.S. Marshal James Hall and Arkansas State Police investigator Ed Fitzpatrick. Matthews entered the kitchen and Kahl emerged from behind a refrigerator, and the two men fired almost simultaneously. Kahl fired at least one round, which severely wounded Matthews in the heart, and Matthews fired a single .41 Magnum round from his 4-inch Smith & Wesson Model 57 revolver, which hit Kahl in the head, killing him instantly. Hall and Fitzpatrick, hearing the gunfire, fired several shotgun blasts inside the house, accidentally striking Matthews in the torso with buckshot. Matthews managed to get to a police cruiser before he collapsed, and he gasped his last words, I got him", After Matthews stumbled out of the house, a SWAT team, unaware that Kahl was dead, began firing thousands of rounds at the house, eventually setting it ablaze by pouring diesel fuel down the house's chimney. Kahl's burned remains were found the following day. Matthews was taken to the hospital, but died on an operating table critically wounded by the bullet fired from Kahl's Mini-14.
FBI Agent Ted Gunderson (a man I was blessed to have made his acquaintance) also looked into this event and concluded that Kahl had been murdered and the shelter was burned down to cover it up. I read into this situation while it was in progress. Kahl had signed up for a 5 year farm assistance program with the FEDS but after a year decided to terminate the contract. He had determined that the govt. program was unnecessary and petitioned to end his involvement. This man should not be forgotten because he was a war hero and an American patriot.