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UNDER THE GUN

AFTER LISTENING TO COLORADO'S PATRIOTS, FRANCISCO DURAN SHOT OFF MORE THAN HIS MOUTH.

Francisco Duran, the Colorado Springs man who allegedly attempted to assassinate President Bill Clinton in Washington, D.C., on October 29, was inspired to take action by a Colorado militia group.

Although initially Duran's White House shooting spree appeared to be an impulsive rampage, he actually put his plans together in mid-September. And he may have had help.

Before he left town, Duran told his wife, Ingrid, that she would have "a lot of money coming in." She feared that her husband planned an assassination attempt and told others of her concerns.

"Frank is being used as a scapegoat," says Jose Gutierrez, Duran's brother-in-law. A native of Buenos Aires, Gutierrez says he knows the price of revolution all too well. "Frank was betrayed."

Citizens' militias--paramilitary groups tied to the "Patriot" movement--now exist in twenty states, including Colorado. Law enforcement sources believe that three militia organizations are operating in the Colorado Springs area. The largest, they say, is the fast-growing 200-member Save America Militia based in the town of Calhan. According to Gutierrez, a private investigator and former corrections officer, his brother-in-law attended meetings of that group.

Duran also listened to militia members and Patriots on talk radio. One day in August, Duran tuned in to Chuck Baker's local talk show, On the Carpet, on KVOR-FM. Baker's guest was Linda Thompson of Indianapolis, the self-styled "acting adjutant general of the Unorganized Militia of the U.S.A" who has her own national shortwave radio program and a phone information bank for Patriots. Thompson was talking about plans for a march on Washington, D.C., during which Patriots would shoot members of Congress and "retake the government."

A man named "Franco" was a frequent caller to Baker's show. But Thompson's appearance inspired a call somewhere else.

On August 23 a man later identified as Duran phoned Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell's office and threatened to "take someone out" in Washington.

Was Duran inspired by the militia's talk of a march? "Bingo," says Gutierrez. "Now you've got it."

From the start, Francisco Duran and Colorado Springs were a potentially lethal combination.

The mix took only a year to explode.
The following account is based on interviews with several people who were close to Francisco or Ingrid Duran--and have never been interviewed by the FBI. The principal details have been confirmed by either Ingrid or Gutierrez, who is married to Ingrid's twin sister, Corrine.

Duran married Ingrid in 1989 in Hawaii, where he was serving a two-year stint as a medic with the 25th Infantry Division. But after ramming his car into a crowd of people in August 1990, Duran was court-martialed and convicted the following March of aggravated assault with a vehicle, drunken driving, drunken and disorderly conduct, and leaving the scene of an accident. He was jailed in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he learned the upholstery trade and served two years of a five-year sentence.

In the meantime, Ingrid Duran and her infant son moved to Colorado Springs, where Corrine and Jose Gutierrez live. Ingrid had worked at a McDonald's in Hawaii, but she decided to become a medical transcriptionist and enrolled at Pikes Peak Institute, a school specializing in health-career training. She eventually got a job at Community Health Center, Inc., in Colorado Springs.

Although Duran reportedly was released from Leavenworth in February 1993, it wasn't until late summer that Ingrid took time off from her job to welcome him home with what she calls a "get-together." Almost immediately afterward, Duran flew to New Mexico because a relative had died--either through an overdose or suicide, Ingrid doesn't know which. Shortly after he returned from that trip, Duran told his wife that another relative was dying, and he left again. "I didn't know his family all that well," Ingrid says.

Eventually, though, Duran settled down with his family, got a job at the Broadmoor as an upholsterer and started getting involved in local groups. And in the Security-Widefield area where the Durans lived, it was easy to find others with like interests.

Colorado Springs has always been a military town, home to the Air Force Academy, the headquarters for the North American Defense Command and the super-secret underground installations inside Cheyenne Mountain where many national decisions would be made in the event of a nuclear war.

But there has always been another military presence in the area as well: Fort Carson, the large Army base located to the south, at one time one of the city's largest employers. In the Colorado Springs military hierarchy, Fort Carson's enlisted men were the troublemakers, the ones who got into bar fights. Still, they had something in common with the people in the more prestigious military outfits: Many fell in love with the Colorado Springs area and eventually retired there.

The class distinctions remained, however. The more elite officers retired north of the Springs and in other higher-priced areas. The enlisted men, both retired and on active duty, congregated south in the Security-Widefield area near Fort Carson, where they were close to the PX, the commissary, medical facilities and lower-priced housing.

For decades the military--both active and retired--had dominated the political scene. But over the past several years, religious groups have been moving into the Colorado Springs area, lured by the scenery and economic incentives offered by the city. While retired generals and their wives for years had ruled the El Paso County Republican party--essentially the county's only political party--now the religious right was gaining influence and the military types were losing it.

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