A former border vigilante who slipped the cops after violating his parole last year was found dead in late December of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to law enforcement.
Kevin “KC” Massey was released from prison on parole in 2018 after serving time on a gun charge. He’d previously gotten some attention among militia types for patrolling the border, armed, in search of people crossing without authorization. After he violated his parole and went on the run last year, some feared a violent stand-off with police.
Massey’s son, Kory Massey, told TPM he was in touch with investigators but that they hadn’t confirmed the details of his father’s death. The Dallas Morning News reported Massey’s passing Friday, citing a local sheriff.
In June of this year, after authorities issued a warrant for Massey’s arrest over parole violations, it appeared he was ready to go down shooting.
“KC is done playing the game of unconstitutional courts that already cost him 3+ years in federal prison for not even violating the law as written,” a post on a Facebook page associated with Massey read, adding: “KC is NOT going to allow himself to be kidnapped again. Death before dishonor!’”
The same Facebook page first announced Massey’s death on Jan. 2. A week later, Van Zandt County Sheriff Dale Corbett confirmed the vigilante’s passing to the Dallas Morning News.
Gary Hunt, who told TPM he was one of two people who maintained Massey’s Facebook page, corresponded with Massey and blogged about his case for years. He was a supporter of Massey’s, and prosecutors once pointed to a blog post of Hunt’s that Massey had posted calling the Oklahoma City bomber a “patriot.”
Hunt said Massey was having trouble buying food while on the lam and was growing more isolated from others.
“He was diminishing,” he said.
Massey was prepared to “defend himself” against law enforcement, Hunt said, but he wasn’t going back to prison.
“He probably took his own life rather than take the more adhered to — but probably more cowardly — way of doing it and starting a shootout,” Hunt said. “That was just not his way, to be aggressive that way.”
Kory Massey told TPM that isolation was hard for his father.
“My dad said the moment he got out [of prison] that he’d never go back,” Massey said. “No matter what.”
“He told me he didn’t want to get in a shootout because he didn’t want to hurt someone that was just trying to do their job and he didn’t want to take some kid’s parent.”
Prior to his arrest in 2014, Massey was a member of Rusty’s Rangers, a border militia that claimed to apprehend and bind the hands of people caught crossing the border unauthorized. That year, a man patrolling with Massey allegedly pointed his gun at a Border Patrol officer, who shot back, though no one was hit. An investigation of the incident resulted in charges against Massey of being a felon in possession of multiple firearms.
Massey was imprisoned in 2015 and released on parole three years later, though he failed a drug test and stopped reporting to his parole officer. A warrant for his arrest was issued in May of last year.
Authorities nearly caught up with Massey over the summer. On the run, Massey showed up at a friend’s tattoo parlor on July 19 and said he needed a place to stay. The friend, James Russell Smith, allegedly took Massey out to a local steakhouse and gave him money for cigarettes and a place to sleep.
Police spotted Massey at Smith’s house on July 23, but by the time they ordered everyone inside to come out — several hours later — Massey was nowhere in sight. The next day, they returned after Smith’s wife said Massey was back. And again, when they arrived, he was gone.
Massey gained notoriety among right-wing militia members and “sovereign citizens” after his arrest, and even more so after he went on the run.
Supporters — and recruiters for the so-called “Patriot movement,” an umbrella term for those who promote organized, armed resistance to the federal government — said he’d been abused by prosecutors and his parole officer. Some speculated he could eventually be killed by police, comparing him to LaVoy Finicum, who was killed in a roadside stand-off after participating in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation in 2016.
Melina Grace MacInnis, who’s listed as a manager of Massey’s Facebook page, invoked Finicum in a Facebook post Sunday about Massey’s death. A few weeks earlier, she used Massey’s case as a call to action.
“He’s out there somewhere and he’s going to die because people don’t want to take action, because people are afraid,” she said. “What if that was you? Wouldn’t you want somebody to help? Wouldn’t you want someone to take action for you?”