An alert Denton police sergeant recognized a pickup he had seen in an intelligence bulletin and investigated, starting an encounter that resulted in the arrest of a man on numerous charges that involved fraud, endangering a child and failure to identify as a fugitive.
Police said more charges are possible relating to explosives and impersonation of a federal officer.
The suspect, however, says he actually is an international intelligence agent working undercover under an alias, and he has 25 badges to prove it.
Joshua Mitchell, 35, also known as Ryan Webb, remained Wednesday afternoon in city jail in lieu of $60,550 bail. He is being held without bail on a charge out of North Carolina.
His girlfriend, Rachael Sheridan, is in Denton County Jail on two counts of endangering a child. Her bail was set at $50,000.
Police said two sergeants were leaving a restaurant parking lot at 12:18 a.m. Tuesday when one of them noticed a pickup pulling into the parking lot. The truck had an unusual vanity plate that he remembered, as well as the description. He radioed other officers to give him more information from the bulletin.
He learned that a man associated with the truck was wanted on theft charges, believed to be impersonating a federal officer and was believed to be armed, the report states.
A woman was driving the truck; the passenger exited and began walking toward the officers and asking about a good hotel to spend the night in. Believing the man was armed, they detained him.
They found a peace officer’s badge, a handcuffs key and a spring-loaded knife in his clothing, according to a police report.
The man gave his name as Ryan Webb, and he claimed to have no identification. But police found a counterfeit Arizona driver’s license in his boot, the report states. They found warrants out of Plano and Garland for Webb.
The woman said she knew the man as Ryan Webb and she believed he was a federal agent. Two little girls, ages 6 years and 8 months, were in the back seat. The woman said they belonged to her and the youngest was Webb’s child.
Meanwhile, an officer responding to assist the two sergeants looked through the truck’s windshield and reported he could see the butt of a pistol sticking out from under the passenger seat.
Officers began a search of the truck. They found two pistols, a blasting cap, two laptop computers and a large number of motel key cards and old credit cards, the report states. They also found a card reader that could be used to steal information from credit cards.
Police found 25 badges with “International Intelligence Agency” imprinted on them and an Orange County Sheriff’s Office badge with the name “Joshua Steven Mitchell” on it along with numerous plastic badge holders, handcuffs and identification cards.
Officers discovered that Joshua Mitchell had outstanding warrants out of Collin County and North Carolina.
Police called city fire marshals to further investigate the explosives. The fire marshals found components for making a hand grenade in the bed of the truck, according to the report, and called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to help investigate. That investigation is ongoing and federal explosives charges could be forthcoming.
Officers charged the woman with two counts of endangering a child because the children were riding in the pickup with the explosives and weapons.
They charged Mitchell with two counts of endangering a child, fraud, possession of stolen identifying information and failure to identify as a fugitive from justice. Mitchell is wanted in North Carolina on a probation violation.
In an interview, Mitchell said he would explain everything, but he is not authorized by the agency to talk about it. He said he was recruited by “a group of individuals” who contract with a federal agency to do good.
He said that the credit cards, card reader and other paraphernalia were used in an identity theft sting operation. He recently participated on a task force that resulted in arrests in a prostitution ring, he said.
He was paid for his services until recently, he said, and he blames President Obama for the funds drying up.
He denied having components for a grenade.
“Anything can have a negative spin,” he said. “Let’s be frank. It’s an asinine charge.”
He said he planned to use the explosive components to build a model rocket with the 6-year-old girl. He’s an experimenter, he said. “Who knows what I might discover?”
He said he owns a company that is involved in the production of robotics. He had hoped to find that sort of work in Denton. He just approached the officers for advice on a motel, he said, and they held him at gunpoint and arrested his common-law wife.
He planned to find and rent a place to live on Wednesday, he said. The 6-year-old’s mother home-schools her, he said.
Police said they found very little cash in the couple’s belongings with which to rent anything.
Mitchell talked to the press, he explained, to try to expose the injustice he was undergoing and to help his wife.
“If I look like the badass, they’ll let the sweet and innocent go,” he said.
He sat under guard during the interview in handcuffs and leg shackles. He shook his head when asked if he thought his agency would rescue him from his predicament.