"Doomsday Prepper" from Buckley charged, claims gun footage was edited

Staff writerJanuary 16, 2014 

A so-called "doomsday prepper" seen firing guns on a reality TV show told detectives the footage must have been edited or filmed prior to his 2009 felony convictions, according to court records.

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies on Wednesday arrested Tyler Smith, 26, at his Buckley home after a 10-month investigation launched when neighbors complained about a National Geographic Channel crew that was at Smith's home filming him for an episode of survivalist TV show “Doomsday Preppers.”

Prosecutors charged Smith with two counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court on Thursday and bail was set at $30,000.

Deputies twice visited Smith’s property in March to respond to neighbor concerns. When they learned he was a convicted felon, they opened an investigation and obtained a search warrant after seeing him handle at least two firearms on the episode titled “We are the Marauders,” which aired Nov. 12.

Felons are barred from owning or possessing guns.

Smith loaded and fired two rifles during the show and drove around with what appeared to be a shotgun in the front seat of his vehicle, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Smith has since moved from the home where the episode was filmed.

Detectives served a warrant at his new property Wednesday and seized several metal containers of ammunition, shotgun shells from the pocket of a camouflage vest, receipts for ammunition dated in November and a photograph of Smith holding a .50 rifle in 2012.

Smith initially denied owning or handling any guns but when confronted with video footage, he “claimed he was not firing the rifles and it was edited,” according to charging documents. “He claimed that portions of the episode had been filmed in 2009…”

Detectives said that is impossible because Smith did not live at the property where the episode was filmed in 2009 and his wife was pregnant in the footage.

Smith eventually admitted that he kept a gun safe in his home until December, when he moved it to a friend’s house, court records show.

“Smith related that he built a firing range on the property, loves firearms and that his wife owns several guns,” according to charging documents.

In 2009, he pleaded guilty to communicating with a minor for immoral purposes after inappropriately touching a drunken 14-year-old girl in an Auburn parking lot. He also pleaded guilty to first-degree theft that same year for failing to pay for a motorcycle he bought.

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