O'Connell said he was 19 when he went to
"We were shut down for many, many years," O'Connell said Friday.
He emphasized that he understood why Newell would want to act out against
"He's probably struggling, and I understand his anger," O'Connell said. "He's a patriot. He probably needs help. You can't go through that change in your life... without help."
Many veterans called The Wichita Eagle newspaper late last week wanting to know how to help pay to get Newell out of the
Some said they did not condone his actions:
Sheriff's officers say they stopped Newell on Tuesday when they noticed
him following members of the church on their way back from
Sheriff's officers say they found his vehicle backed into a spot in the
The weapons charges accuse Newell of unlawfully
carrying and concealing or possessing with "intent to use" an M4 rifle,
.45-caliber Glock handgun and .38-caliber
"To me what these people do at the funerals of the fallen soldiers is equal to somebody burning the American flag in my presence. If somebody did that I would gladly, with a big smile from ear to ear, go to jail because I would not allow it to happen."
He called the church's protests at military funerals a "terrible, terrible thing" and said they are dishonoring the very people who helped preserve their right to freedom of speech.
"I don't know the Phelpses from the Schmelpses, but my God, don't you dare do it in front of me," Shrigley said.
The church issued a news release Thursday that said anyone "who pays a dime for (Newell's) legal matters is a co-conspirator and enemy of God."
Many people who might not ordinarily approve of what Newell is accused of doing may feel differently because of the Phelps family.
"But another piece is who the 'stalker' is," Zettle said. "It's hypothetical, but if you or I were arrested for stalking the Phelpses, people might not have the same reaction to our arrest. This is obviously someone who has paid a dear price for his service in the military. He's certainly a sympathetic character."
But, Parker added, "We decide cases based on the facts and the law. We don't decide cases based on whether we like or dislike the victim or the suspect."
Jackson said he knows Newell through the American Legion Riders. Friends have said that Newell rides a three-wheeled motorcycle, or trike.
"There's a group of us who ride together," he said.
A fund has been set up through
Other groups have started funds for Newell's defense as well.
Jackson said his desire to help doesn't mean he believes what Newell is accused of doing is right.
"I don't condone what he done, but people just do not understand mentally what these vets go through," Jackson said.
Jackson said nobody he has talked to who knew Newell "saw this coming."
"Ryan is not alone in this. These vets need help," Jackson said. "I have met and associated with hundreds and hundreds of
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