UFO conspiracist, tax resister, and self-styled “militiaman”, Milton W. Cooper left a mixed legacy. While those who were inclined to accept his theories on John F. Kennedy’s assassination and a government cover-up of an alien invasion found him engaging and personable, those who questioned his logic or asked for proof found that ‘his demeanor and attitude was “unfriendly” at best.’ 1 A Clinton White House memo allegedly labelled him “the most dangerous radio host in America”2while those who identified with his shoot-from-the-hip independence called him America’s greatest patriot.
Best known as the author of Behold a Pale Horse (1991), this book detailed his claims of an extraterrestrial invasion and government cover-up, as well as the complete text of the notorious antisemitic hoax, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with Cooper claiming that “any reference to ‘Jews’ should be replaced with the word ‘Illuminati.”
He hosted a short-wave radio programme called The Hour of the Time(WBCQ worldwide short-wave 7.415 MHz (0300 to 0400 UTC) Monday through Thursday nights). In October 2001, Cooper’s radio show was cancelled because of “lack of funds”. He also hosted a talk show broadcast on the Worldwide Christian Radio out of Nashville.
Cooper made many claims about his life. He claimed to have been a member of the Order of DeMolay, an appendant body of Freemasonry, claiming this gave him insight into the hidden clues of masonic control. 3
A second-class petty officer, he had received an Honourable Discharge from the United States Navy on 11 December, 1975. But he also made unverified claims to have worked for Naval Intelligence, using this as justification for many of his claims and accusations regarding what he claimed was a government cover-up regarding UFOs.
He first posted messages in ParaNet early in 1988 but, when asked for evidence, became so abusive that he was eventually barred. “He was known for plagiarizing the ‘research’ of other UFOlogists and claiming that he first saw all this stuff in Naval Intelligence documents in the early ’70s—including things the UFOlogists made up as jokes.” 4
“It didn’t take long for the UFO mainstream to turn against Cooper. He had come out of nowhere telling grossly sensational stories, and yet was quickly eclipsing those who had been laboring for decades to gain public acceptance for stories only a bit less outlandish. A little investigation quickly showed how Cooper’s tales were not only implausible and unsubstantiated, but had significantly changed over time. Don Ecker of UFO Magazine ran a series of exposés on Cooper in 1990.” 5
Over time, his claims became more outlandish. He claimed that JFK was assassinated by his driver, citing a special ‘washed’ version of the Zapruder film that seemed to show Kennedy’s driver, William Greer, turning to shoot the President—an allegation since disproven. 6 He later claimed that the aliens in an American television series, “Alien Nation”, were real aliens.7
By 1998, the USA federal government had several outstanding warrants for Cooper and his wife for tax evasion and bank fraud. Cooper’s Chinese-born wife, Annie, and their two daughters had left the United States in June 2000; Cooper remained at his home in Eagar, Apache County, Arizona.
Cooper had made it clear, both online and on air, that he would not surrender to the police. ‘According to Glenn Jacobs, a local newspaperman who knew Cooper, “he kept an AK-47 just inside his front door by a magazine rack.”‘ 8
At 11:40 pm, 5 November, 2001, Apache County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to serve an arrest warrant at Cooper’s residence. Earlier that day Cooper had seen a man driving past his home, ran out, jumped in his car and drove after the man, forcing him to pull over, and threatening him at gunpoint. The man, a local doctor, waited until Cooper left then called the police, who issued a warrant against Cooper for “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.”
Cooper had lost a leg in a motorcycle accident many years before, and police surveillance indicated that there was a high probability that his home contained a number of firearms.9Police believed that if they could lure Cooper out of his home they would have a better chance of arresting him.
“Members of the Apache Country Sheriff’s Office deployed several deputies in the area adjacent to Cooper’s home in an attempt to draw him from his residence to serve an arrest warrant. After leaving his residence in his vehicle, Cooper confronted plainclothes deputies a short distance away. As Cooper drove back to his residence, Sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop him using a fully marked patrol vehicle to block the roadway. Cooper refused to stop or comply with verbal orders issued by deputies. Cooper drove around the patrol vehicle, off the roadway, and attempted to run over a sergeant before heading back to his residence. Cooper was followed a short distance to the front of his residence where he was again confronted by uniformed deputies. After refusing once again to comply with orders from deputies, Cooper exited his vehicle and ran toward his house, firing shots from a handgun towards deputies. Deputy Robert Marinez of the Apache County Sheriff’s Office was struck in the head by at least one round. Deputies returned fire, striking and fatally wounding Cooper.” 10
Although widely reported as 5 November, the police report gives his time of death as early in the morning of 6 November.11 On 15 November, a memorial service was held for Cooper at the Jewkes Mortuary in Eagar, Arizona. Shortly after his death, internet reports of a press conference that William Cooper had allegedly held two weeks before his death began to appear. These have been denied by his website as being a hoax. 12