Archive for Monday, December 6, 2010

Veteran gets support in following incident with Westboro Baptist Church

December 6, 2010


— Veterans from across the U.S. have offered to come to the aid of a disabled Kansas vet who is accused of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery against a church that protests at military funerals.

Some said they don’t condone what Marion resident Ryan Newell, 26, is accused of doing, but they understand what he must be going through after losing his legs in Afghanistan.

Newell was arrested Tuesday after sheriff’s officers said they saw him following members of Westboro Baptist Church after they left a protest in Mulvane. Officers found an M4 rifle, .45-caliber Glock handgun and a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, along with more than 90 rounds of ammunition, in Newell’s vehicle.

The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday that Michael O’Connell, a Vietnam veteran from New Jersey, said he will fly to Kansas to help Newell, if necessary.

“He’s probably struggling, and I understand his anger,” O’Connell said of Newell. “He’s a patriot. He probably needs help. You can’t go through that change in your life ... without help.”

Westboro members routinely protest at military funerals, saying soldiers are killed because of the country’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Several veterans contacted The Eagle last week asking how to help pay to get Newell out of jail and pay for his lawyers.


Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

A Paypal account should be set up for him, and widely publicised. That should do it, then anyone could donate anonymously.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

I am not sure about the anonymity of a paypal donation. But I see no reason to make donations anonymous. I don't think it is an illegal act to donate to someone's defense. My guess is one would want to make sure that immediate release is the best thing for the man. He may get himself into trouble if he is in a certain frame of mind. Sometimes it is hard to know how to give a hand to someone. I certainly have sympathy for the situation.. My guess is he is in need of help from those who have gone through some of the same. I am glad to hear those who have seen service are offering to help a brother.i hope his fellow vets can gain access to him and assess the best way to help. I appreciate those people.

denak 7 years, 4 months ago

I am a veteran myself and in no way condone what Westboro Baptist Church does but Newell lost my support the moment he loaded up his vehicle with enough weaponry to cause very serious injury or loss of life to the members of the Phelps Family.

I think these people are scum but the law doesn't protect just those who we think are great people, they apply to everyone and Newell does not have the right to gun them down just because he does not agree with their actions especially since those actions are entirely legal and posed no immediate threat to anyone there.

Our vets face a number of issues coming home, especially those that suffer from horrible injuries, but that does not mean they should not be held accountable for their actions.

How many people would be lining up to help him had he gone through with his actions..... and hit a bunch of innocent by standards. Members of the fallen's family.

Losing one's legs is not the same as losing one's life and the members of Westboro do not deserved to be gunned down simply because they exercise their First Amendment right..... a right, that as a veteran, he should have respected.


somebodynew 7 years, 4 months ago

Thank you, Dena. I know you (and I) will be bashed on here. But, also as a veteran, I agree with what you said. And if you follow what happens around that "group", it is typically the bystanders that get hurt. Those people actually train to avoid injury.

Liberty275 7 years, 4 months ago

I'll stand behind everything denak posted here. I would only like to add that I hope the veterans that are offering their help don't waste their time defending a crime but instead see to it the American hero gets any psychological treatment he needs,

MyName 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes, because clearly someone who wants to shoot people for their (misguided) religious beliefs is exactly the same as people who want to spice up a political rally by bringing a load of handguns.

And have you seen anyone who seems to think that the Vet wanting to shoot the WBC up was doing the right thing?

mom_of_three 7 years, 4 months ago

I am glad the veterans and others are in support of him. Obviously, he has traumatic issues still remaining after losing his legs in war, and perhaps feels personally attacked by this hate group. He needs a good defense so he can get the help he needs.

From what I read, he had guns in his car and followed them, but no one ever said he was ready to use them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

I predict that this will never go to trial. There'll be some sort of plea bargain, likely including requiring him to seek medical treatment, and if he follows through, he'll likely see no more jail time after his likely imminent release.

Joe Hyde 7 years, 4 months ago

Interesting that Mr. Newell, a military veteran who has lost both legs, was following the Phelps group by means of operating a motor vehicle. For a legless person, driving a car well and safely can't be an easy task. I've never seen it done, but even at residential speeds the eye-hand coordination required must be something approaching that of a fighter pilot's.

As incindiary as these funeral protests often are, with luck Mr. Newell will come to appreciate that the Phelps group suffers from a disability far more severe than his.

seriouscat 7 years, 4 months ago

FDR was the first person without the use of their legs to drive a vehicle with only his upper body. I'm glad he set a precedent like that for disabled people and I'm glad this vet... his recent unsettling actions notwithstanding, is still able to get around.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 4 months ago

The best way to stick it to the Phelpsites is to immediately repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell! Let that stick in their collective craw.

BlackVelvet 7 years, 4 months ago

"I am a veteran myself and in no way condone what Westboro Baptist Church does but Newell lost my support the moment he loaded up his vehicle with enough weaponry....."

Why has he lost your support? Has he been convicted of any crime yet? Will you feel foolish if it turns out he had no intention of using those weapons? How scary to think he could have been arrested for simply having weapons in his car? We surely don't know the whole story yet, and perhaps he WAS intenting to use the weapons for no-good, but how about we hold off on pulling our support until we know a bit more? One day folks want the Phelp's to burn in hell, the next...well never mind.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.