Luke Elliott Sommer


Luke Elliott Sommer

Luke Elliott Sommer (born June 26, 1986, Peachland, British Columbia) is a former Army Ranger and bank robber. He plead guilty to the August 7, 2006 robbery of a branch of the Bank of America in Tacoma, Washington. [ [http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=af741463-5c0b-476f-9b75-10f16238141e B.C. man pleads guilty to U.S. bank robbery] Vancouver Sun]

Charges

Presently, Sommer has been indicted in the United States on several charges with multiple counts including but not limited to: possession of a Machine Gun, AK-47 (three counts), possession of an explosive bomb, possession of a hand grenade (three counts), use of a machine gun in the furtherance of a crime of violence, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery (casino), and armed bank robbery.

Sommer is also facing several firearm related charges in the Saanich area of BC, Canada, involving the possession and concealment of a small handgun. Sommer was arrested by RCMP officers in Kelowna British Columbia while attending a court ordered meeting with his bail supervisor. He was arrested on the weapons charge by several plainclothes officers, and was held in Kelowna City cells for several hours before being released on bail.

Recent developments

Currently on house arrest at his home in Peachland, British Columbia, Sommer is facing a pending extradition hearing. Sommer was released on bail September 17, 2006 after a a short hearing. During the hearing Sommer's lawyer argued successfully that Sommer was a resident of Canada (Even in light of his three year assignment to the United States military) and that his involvement with the United States military was, "like being a professional athlete, traveling and operating abroad." With the success of this argument, Chief Justice Dohm placed the Onus on the crown, who failed to prove valid reason for his incarceration pending his extradition hearing.

Sommer is represented by Vancouver area lawyer Sean Hern, of Farris, Vaughn, Wills and Murphy.

In a recent interview, Sommer discussed spending a large majority of his time online playing the PC Computer Game Counter-Strike. He has become involved heavily with an online team called The Replacement Killers. The clan, as they are called in the online gaming community is enrolled in the Team Warfare League and regularly competes in official and private matches.

Many people draw strong correlations to violence and video games, and many people have asked Sommer in interviews about his opinions on whether or not his playing violent games influenced his decision to join the military or not. Sommer had little to say on the subject but pointed out that the amount of gamers far outweighs the amount of violent crime in North America.

Background information

Luke Elliott Sommer was born on June 26, 1986 in Kelowna British Columbia, Canada. He is the son of Luke and Christel Sommer (who have since divorced). He is the oldest of six children and has one son, Landon Michael Sommer-Rose who was born on March 2, 2003. Sommer was raised as a Christian and was home schooled for a majority of his life. He travelled extensively with his Grandmother, Denise Fichtner, who died on August 8, one day after the robbery in Tacoma.

Sommer joined the Army on June 26, 2003 and was assigned to a basic training class at Sand Hill, Fort Benning Georgia on November 4, 2003, graduating on January 27 2004. After completing OSUT (One Station Unit Training) attended and completed Airborne School on Fort Benning prior to attending the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) in the green fence at Ranger Training Detachment. After completing RIP Sommer was sent to Fort Lewis Washington to the 1st Platoon (Madslashers), Charlie Company, 2nd battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment. Sommer was at the unit for less than three weeks before he left his girlfriend and newborn son and was shipped to Baghdad Iraq, where he remained until September 2004.

It was during this deployment that Sommer alleges he witnessed the rape and abuse of Iraqi nationals at the hands of members of the joint government-military Task Force known as Task Force 6-26. After returning from Iraq, Sommer conducted Ranger convalescent skill training which includes hot wiring vehicles, operating heavy machines and basic EMT courses. After spending six months in the United States, Sommer was again deployed with 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, overseas, this time to Bagram Afghanistan.

After Sommer returned from Afghanistan in September 2005, he was sent to the United States Army Ranger School. Sommer spent nearly seven months completing the highly prestigious military leadership school, and although he had to restart the school twice, Sommer managed to complete the school on April 7, 2006.

After attending Ranger School, court documents assert that Sommer began recruiting and training several members of his unit and two civilians for what was called a robbery with "military style precision and planning." After the robbery, Sommer was arrested and detained in the North Fraser Pretrial Centre where other prisoners such as Rakesh Saxena and Robert William Pickton where also held. Sommer was released on bail in September 2006, and has been on house arrest in Canada for the last several months.

Media attention

Sommer received significant media attention in 2006 after revealing his robbery role in an interview with Seattle Weekly. He was interviewed by a variety of television, radio and print outlets, including but not limited to: National Public Radio (US), The National Post (Canada), Rolling Stone Magazine (US), the Seattle Times and the New York Times. This attention stemmed from his Ranger background, his assertion that the AK-47 assault rifles used in the robbery were smuggled back from Iraq, and his charge that his alleged involvement, if proven, was actually an effort to draw public attention to his allegations that Task Force 6-26, a unit he was assigned to during his time overseas, was actively involved in war crimes. These accounts confirmed that United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been interacting with him, and a portion of a recorded call was played on National Public Radio in which a SOCOM officer admits that officers of the rank of Brigadier General and above had been briefed and were concerned. However, in December 2006, the Seattle Times reported that the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the US Army released a statement alleging that Sommer's war crimes allegations were investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. It is however interesting to note that the calls between Sommer and SOCOM, in which the officer states the commands interest, occur after the CID statement was released.

Political defense

The strategy behind Sommer's extradition fight asserts that if he was involved in the robbery, the robbery was a form of political protest to draw attention to the Task Force 6-26 war crimes allegations. The belief is that Canadian authorities would not extradite Sommer for what his defense claims is a "political" crime. Many lay observers balk at the feasibility of this defense, though a few legal commentators have professed that this strategy has enough merit to at least be heard in court. U.S. attorneys arguing for Sommer's extradition claim there was no political motive for the robbery. Rather, the money stolen in the robbery was intended to create a motorcycle gang that would rival the motorcycle gangs controlling crime in the American Pacific Northwest and Canadian British Columbia. Sommer contends however that the US has an ulterior motive in promoting the organized crime element of their story, claiming that the accusations may be an attempt to elicit interest in him by the Hells Angels. He also believes tying him to organized crime is an attempt to place the onus on him to prove why he should be released on bail, according to Canadian law.

References

External links

* [http://awokendreamer.blogspot.com Elliott Sommer's Blog]
* [http://www.farris.com Farris Law Firm]
* [http://kiro.radiotown.com/audio/sommer.mp3 Kiro 710 Interview of Sommer]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6641475 NPR Radio Interview]
* [http://www.chbc.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=13577 Local television station interview]
* [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/295023_ranger07.html Seattle PI Interview]
* [http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/03/ATbankheist070301/ Army Times Story and Interview]
* [http://www.seattleweekly.com/2006-11-29/news/soldiers-of-fortune.php]


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