Friday, August 09, 2013

Carl Drega, Folk Hero to Free Staters

Those of us who lived in northern NH when Carl Drega went on his murderous rampage see something like this and get the chills. The chills mixed in with some serious pissed off. 

Carl Drega was a guy from Bow who had a small vacation place in Columbia - a small town near Colebrook. He was not a beloved member of the community. Drega was an angry man who was sure everyone was out to get him. He'd had code enforcement problems in Columbia. He wanted to use tarpaper as siding on his house. His house was on the riverfront, and a flood had washed some of his property away. His response was to dump a load of fill in, to "replace what he'd lost." Dumping fill into the riverbank wasn't met with applause. When there was an issue with a tax assessment, he shot over the heads of the selectwoman and tax assessor who came to speak with him. (The selectwoman was Vicki Bunnell)

After that, he started putting motion sensors up all over his property and stockpiling weapons. On August 19, 1997, he went out and started killing. He killed 4 people, and wounded several others. He killed 2 state troopers, Officers Scott Phillips and Les Lord. He killed Vicki Bunnell, the judge at Colebrook District Court, who was a Colombia selectwoman. Bunnell had a restraining order against Drega. When she saw him and his gun, she stopped to warn others in the building. Drega shot her 8 times in the back. He also shot Dennis Joos, the editor of the Colebrook News and Sentinel. He tried to disarm Drega after he killed Vicki Bunnell. 

Drega went on to wound NH Fish and Game warden Wayne Saunders, NH State Troopers Jeffrey Caulder and Robert Haase, and US Border Patrol agent John Pfeifer, before he was finally killed by State Trooper Charles West and US Border Patrol agent Stephen Brooks. 

I remember all this. I was working the night shift at a restaurant, and we were glued to the news. This kind of senseless violence on such a big scale wasn't something any of us were used to seeing in our relatively quiet and crime free state. 

Time Magazine did a half decent story about Drega and his massacre. 

Why am I bringing this up? In an email exchange last night, a friend mentioned Carl Drega while we were discussing the BearCat tank the Concord PD wants to get. I remembered the story, of course, but I googled Drega anyway, for a refresher. 

What I found was that to a certain segment of the population, Drega has become a hero. One of those people who have turned Drega from a domestic terrorist into a poor heroic victim is a guy named Vin Suprynowicz. He penned the tome you see in the picture above; The Ballad of Carl Drega. 

A Google search of Vin Suprynowicz revealed something of great interest. Vin's a Free Stater. That's right - Vin is a signed member of the Free State Project. He signed up in 2002. In fact, in 2002, he proclaimed himself one of the most famous and respected FSP members, on the FSP internet forum where he was holding forth about how poor Carl Drega was a victim, a man who'd had too much and had "only one option to find justice." 

Forgive me, but there's only one thing to say about Vin: what an asshole. 

Suprynowiscz also wrote a piece called Live Free or Die: How Many More Carl Dregas? that was published in the Libertarian Enterprise, the same publication where the founder of the Free State Project, Jason Sorens, published his original manifesto a few years later. 

It's painful to read - to see this guy attempting to turn Drega into the heroic man o' the people who'd been done wrong by the Man - instead of what he really was - a violent,  paranoid nutcase who hated everyone and thought he was above the law. 

A far better read is this point by point refutation of Vin's nonsense by a guy named Jim Macdonald who actually lived up there and knows the story far better than a long distance libertarian from Nevada. 

This is Vin Suprynowiscz. He's a Free Stater. This is the kind of person that the Free State Project wants to bring to our state. 

(For additional, unrelated fun, Vin's blog is filled with the kind of misogyny and racism that always make my heart sing.)


Nikkiru said...

I suppose it was inevitable. There are people who see Charles Manson, Richard Speck, and Ted Bundy as some kind of culture heroes. It just seems the more unjustifiable the cause, the more desperate people become to turn any splashy attention-getter they can dredge up into its figurehead.

Anonymous said...

Drega was definitely no Hero quite the opposite on that we agree. But you are wrong to Smear a large group of People by one Idiot author. That is supposedly a member of a group. You blog post would have been more effective if you had left the smear part out of it.

susanthe said...

Dear Anonymous #1 - there is no "supposedly" about Suprynowicz being part of the Free State Project. He's listed quite proudly on their website as a signer, as you would have discovered if you had clicked on the links I included in my post.

Anonymous said...

Even if He is a Free stater Has the group endorsed his Book? Have they said this Ass Drega is a Hero ? No you are engaged in a smear campaign Please stick t the facts

susanthe said...

Yeah, dude. I'm smearing the Free Staters by pointing out that this guy is a Free Stater. That he's listed as one of the influential people who is signed up with the Free State Project.

How naughty of me to smear them with the truth.