Tyler Smith believed he was doing a service to his nation by being a so-called “doomsday prepper,” readying his family for almost any disaster at his Buckley property.
But his county took issue with the convicted felon’s firearms, which law enforcement saw featured in a November episode of the National Geographic Channel survivalist TV show, “Doomsday Preppers.”
That led to the arrest Wednesday of 26-year-old Smith on suspicion of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Because Smith has felony convictions, he is barred from owning guns.
Pierce County sheriff’s deputies took Smith into custody at his home without incident just before noon. Deputies told him they had come to talk to him about not being registered as a Level 1 sex offender, as he is required to be, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. Level 1 is the designation for those least likely to reoffend.
Troyer said he expected charges to be filed against Smith on Thursday.
The News Tribune was not able to reach Smith via phone Wednesday. The newspaper usually does not name people accused of a crime until they are charged but is doing so this time because of Smith’s high profile.
Troyer said the Buckley man came to the department’s attention “by people all over the country bringing him to our attention.”
“Reality TV crashed into reality,” he said.
Deputies have been investigating Smith since the television episode aired Nov. 12.
“We have video and pictures of him (Smith) loading guns and firing them,” Troyer said. “He verbally expressed a threat to his neighbors while being armed.”
Smith made statements on the show about his doomsday prepping such as: “We’re not in it to stockpile. We’re in it to take what you have and there’s nothing you can do to stop us. We are your worst nightmare, and we are coming.”
He told The News Tribune before the show aired that he and his family focus more on prepping than target practice, partly because ammunition is expensive.
“If I could (afford it), I would fire a couple thousand rounds a day,” Smith said at the time.
He also said he had a regional map of places he can get supplies by force, and studied medicine, including how to perform a cesarean section on his wife. During the show he tested a homemade bullet-proof suit by having his cousin shoot him point blank in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun. Smith received a significant bruise.
Court records show Smith pleaded guilty in 2009 to communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, for inappropriately touching a drunken 14-year-old girl in an Auburn parking lot. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in Pierce County for failing to pay for a motorcycle he purchased, according to court records.
Both are felony crimes.
Asked for comment on Smith’s arrest, National Geographic issued a statement Wednesday, stating: “We are aware of the arrest, and have decided not to air this episode until all legal matters are sorted out.”
The channel did not immediately return a News Tribune request for information about its background checking procedures.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268
Staff writer Stacia Glenn contributed to this report.