Deputies arrest man for impersonating an officer

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EDGAR COUNTY, Ill. (WAND) - Authorities arrested a man who said he worked with the Department of Defense over the weekend. 

Sheriff's deputies say Justin A. Hefner came to the Edgar County Sheriff's office and said he was a federal agent and needed help arresting some people from Paris. He was wearing an outer vest with a badge and a holster with the butt of a pistol showing. The pistol turned out to be a BB gun, Sheriff Jeff Wood said.

Wood said deputies recognized Hefner as having impersonated police before and referred to a situation earlier in the week with Paris Police. Court records show Hefner was subject to a stalking no contact order dating back to Wednesday.

Deputies convinced Hefner they believed he was a federal agent and had him lock his gun in a vault before coming into the jail.  When he was inside officers had him remove his body armor, which was found to have 1/2 inch steel plate inside. He also had handcuffs, mace and a bullet proof vest. 

Deputies took Hefner into custody without incident. 

In Hefner's car, police found another badge, large package of zip ties, duct tape and an unloaded AR-15. The gun was equipped with optics, bump stock, quick magazine release and a bi-pod. They also found a 100 round fully loaded drum magazine with several 30 round magazines. The vehicle had flashing lights and a police dash cam. 

"I don't think the people here were in danger," said Wood. "The person he had his sights on? Possibly. We found a hit list, but it was a list of people he wanted to make arrests on. He got into some old websites, found some old things and just kind of put it on himself to be an investigator and to right wrongs."

After searching social media deputies found a Facebook page, Constitutional Wounded Warriors, where Hefner expressed plans on whom he was targeting in Edgar County and Paris. Many of his posts address Paris Police and local leaders, including this one February 15: "Paris Police Department, ANY of Your Officers that Gets in My Way of Investigation WILL BE ARRESTED With INTEREFING!!!!"

The Facebook page for Constitutional Wounded Warriors also included a photo of a business card for the group, listing it as a non-profit organization to help veterans. The card listed contact information for Hefner and a woman. The phone number for the woman was out of service, and WAND has not received a response to an email sent to her listed address.

Some of Hefner's posts reference reporting by the Edgar County Watchdogs. Author and researcher John Kraft said Hefner messaged the organization once on January 3, expressing his desire to "bring down Edgar County." Kraft said the organization was not interested in associating with Hefner, and Kraft said he notified the Edgar County Clerk on Friday evening of Hefner's erratic Facebook posts.

"We ain't got nothing to do with (Hefner), and he ain't got nothing to do with us," Kraft said by phone Monday.

Hefner was charged with impersonating a public officer, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of body armor. His bond was set at $20,000. 

The FBI and Homeland Security were notified of the arrest. 

"We've been in touch with all the federal agencies we can get hold of," the sheriff said. "FBI's been here, talked to him. (I) don't know if he's a person of interest to them. I think it's more of a mental health issue."

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