APut 05/18 0241 Pires Interview SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Robert Pires says he joined up with
APut 05/18 0241 Pires Interview
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Robert Pires says he joined up with the
Aryan Nations white supremacist church as a mercenary and later
turned himself in because he didn't want innocent people killed.
Pires himself was sentenced last week to life in prison for
the murder of a Baltimore man in northern Idaho. He also has
received state and federal sentences of as long as 20 years for
his role in bombings in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, as well as for
counterfeiting and attempted bank robbery.
Pires talked to The Spokesman-Review newspaper in April at the
Latah County Jail in Moscow, Idaho, where he was held from his
arrest last October through early last week. The newspaper said
Saturday that the interview was granted on the condition that his
comments wouldn't be published until after Pires's sentencing was
One of his major early memories, Pires said, was learning at
the age of 4 that he was adopted.
"It really upset me," he said. "It seemed like my parents
didn't care because I wasn't really theirs."
Pires' adoptive father was a strict Seventh-Day Adventist who
served a number of schools Pires attended as a child, either as a
teacher or principal. His early years were spent in Maryland,
and the family lived in Bermuda at one point.
When Robert was a teen-ager, the family moved to Mountain
View, Calif. Pires discovered marijuana and alcohol. He was
expelled after stealing his father's car and destroying school
It was the start of an arduous adolescence.
"I always felt as though I was in another world inside the
regular world," he said. "There was the other world and I just
leapt for it."
When the family moved to another California city, Robert was
expelled from school for striking a vice principal. He moved to
an alternative high school, but dropped out in his senior year.
With money borrowed from his grandmother, he bought his first
car. He said he sold drugs to pay her back.
In 1983, Pires was arrested in Santa Barbara for burglary and
enrolled in an alcohol-rehabilitation program. He finished
rehabilitation, borrowed money from his grandmother and rode a
bus back to Maryland, where his family had moved.
There he enrolled in another alcohol treatment program.
In February 1984, Pires burglarized the homes of family
friends and took eight firearms. Convicted, he was sentenced to
16 months in jail. When he got out, he took 11 firearms from his
landlord and headed for Idaho.
Pires said he went to the Rev. Richard Butler's compound in
Hayden Lake, Idaho, to be a mercenary, not because he believed in
Butler's neo-Nazi teachings.
"I figured I would make $25,000 a year, fight for what I
believe in and pay people back," Pires said.
Authorities say Pires was the getaway driver on the day that
Kenneth Shray was killed last August in Bonner County, north of
Coeur d'Alene. Aryan Nations members believed Shray was a police
informer, Pires' lawyer said last week, and Pires didn't know the
others planned to do more than beat up Shray.
Pires, 22, said he was the one who persuaded Ed Hawley and
David Dorr, other members of a group that called itself Order II,
not to kill a Roman Catholic priest who heads the Kootenai County
Task Force on Human Relations.
Pires said Hawley wanted to leave a bomb at the Rev. Bill
Wassmuth's front door last Sept. 15, then ring the doorbell.
Pires said he convinced Hawley not to put it right in front of
the door. The bomb went off 20 feet from the priest and he was
Later, after another series of bombings in Coeur d'Alene,
which were intended to provide a screen for bank robberies, Pires
said he sat in on a session at which Dorr and Hawley planned
Hawley wanted to go to Wassmuth's home and "blow him away,"
Pires said he decided to surrender then. First, he took a
brief trip to Seattle.
"I shouldn't have come back," Pires said. "I shouldn't have
said anything, then we'd see how many people would have been
His plea bargain includes provisions that his sentences will
run concurrently, that he'll testify against white supremacists
and that he will be included in the federal government's
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