AT-4 rocket launcher among weapons seized from Menifee home

WRITER’S NOTE: As the author of this article, I have since learned that the “rocket launcher” seized by the sheriff’s department was inert and could not even be fired. According to Mr. Rutledge’s friends and family, it posed no danger whatsoever to anyone, other than as a big club that, at worst, could bonk someone on the head.

While speaking with Mr. Rutledge’s family members I have learned a lot about the alleged suspect; including the fact that he is a decorated war Veteran suffering from PTSD, and that he was a danger to nobody but himself.

I am currently working with his family to write an update to my original article that better explains Mr. Rutledge’s circumstances and struggles with depression and PTSD.

SEE RELATED UPDATE: More details surface after Menifee man’s weapons arrest

-TM

MENIFEE — Most of the time when law enforcement officers are making contact with citizens – whether on a traffic stop, pedestrian check, or while conducting an investigation – and they ask if the person they are speaking with has any guns, assault rifles, hand grenades, rocket launchers, or anything else that could potentially harm them the question is more tongue-in-cheek and meant to put the person at ease than a real question.

However, there are times when that question is far more relevant than most would expect.

Such was the case recently, when officials investigating reports of a man who officials said was “acting irrational and had discharged a firearm inside the residence” led to the discovery of a variety weapons and ammunition – including a shoulder-launched AT-4 anti-tank rocket launcher. When not de-commissioned and properly rendered safe, the AT-4 is capable of firing 84-mm High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds, with an effective firing range of 300 meters, and a maximum range of 2,100 meters.

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On Saturday, July 6, deputies assigned to Menifee Police Station responded to a home in the 26000 block of Byers Rd. in Menifee shortly before 4 p.m., after receiving reports of a man inside the residence who was being irrational and had allegedly fired a weapon inside the home, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Avila reported after the man’s arrest.

When deputies arrived at the home they learned the man, later identified as 37-year-old, Lucas Michael Rutledge, of Menifee, had already fled the residence prior to deputies arrival. Despite searching the area, deputies did not locate Rutledge that evening.

Lucas Rutledge was arrested after officials say he discharged a weapon inside his Menifee residence. RSO booking photo

Three days later, Tuesday, July 9, deputies learned Rutledge had returned to the home and was possibly causing another disturbance.

Based on the circumstances and information learned during the prior call, numerous deputies and other officials from Perris Station’s Special Enforcement Team, along with members of the Sheriff’s SWAT and Hazardous Device teams, Riverside County Gang Task Force Region 6, Riverside County Sheriff’s K-9 Team, and one of the Sheriff’s helicopters responded back to the residence.

After surrounding the home and shutting down traffic along Byers Rd. and in the surrounding area, deputies made contact with several people who were called out of the residence where deputies questioned them about Rutledge and if he was inside the home. Officials learned that Rutledge was inside the residence, but was refusing to exit the home.

The incident eventually came to a peaceful resolution when Rutledge exited the residence and surrendered to waiting SWAT members and other deputies.

During a subsequent search of the property, deputies discovered the rocket launcher hidden inside one of the structures on the property, according to Avila.

Officials say they discovered Rutledge was in possession of an AT-4 anti-tank rocket launcher, as well as several firearms and ammunition. RSO photos

Although officials did not specify if the anti-tank weapon was capable of being fired, members of the department’s Hazardous Device Team moved in for a closer inspection, and “rendered the weapon safe” before seizing it, the Sgt. later explained.

Deputies also discovered an AR-15 rifle, shotgun, handgun, and ammunition which were all also seized.

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At the conclusion of their investigation, deputies arrested Rutledge for the earlier illegal discharge of a firearm and he was later booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. Jail records indicate Rutledge remains in custody on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at Murrieta’s Southwest Justice Center, July 12.

No injuries related to either incidents were reported.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact Deputy R. Thornock or Deputy R. Owen from the Perris Station at (951) 210-1000. Callers can refer to incident file number ME191870067 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

SEE RELATED UPDATE: More details surface after Menifee man’s weapons arrest


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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