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Originally published Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 11:55 AM

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Utah mountain fugitive may face federal gun charge

A fugitive captured recently in the Utah mountains and accused with shooting at a police helicopter to evade arrest after a yearslong series of cabin break-ins could face federal weapons charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY —

A fugitive captured recently in the Utah mountains and accused with shooting at a police helicopter to evade arrest after a yearslong series of cabin break-ins could face federal weapons charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Troy James Knapp, arrested last week with stolen guns and other property in the central Utah mountains, has a criminal background that would prohibit him from possessing weapons, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives has joined the investigation.

The ATF is "considering any possible federal firearms violations in the investigation and offering our expertise," agent Brad Beyersdorf said.

Knapp, 45, survived winters in the Utah wilderness by breaking into vacant cabins and stealing guns, food and camping supplies, according to authorities. A police helicopter on April 2 flushed him out of a cabin where he had been holed up, drawing fire from the suspect, investigators say.

"Shooting at a helicopter at a minimum is attempted homicide," Sanpete County Attorney Brody Keisel said.

Knapp has been in custody since his arrest and will make his first court appearance by video in rural Manti on Wednesday on initial charges of three October burglaries in Fairview Canyon.

Keisel said he was pausing for the federal investigation before adding charges against Knapp, including accusing him in the shooting and a string of more recent cabin burglaries and thefts.

Several other Utah counties have warrants out for Knapp, who is expected to be prosecuted first in Sanpete County where he was captured, Keisel said.

Federal officials are interested in the case and are working with Sanpete County authorities, said Melodie Rydalch, a federal prosecutor's spokeswoman.

Knapp most recently served time in California for burglary.

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