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No bond for Valrico doomsday prepper Martin Winters

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Martin Winters appeared in federal court Wednesday. Sketch by artist Douglas Land Martin Winters appeared in federal court Wednesday. Sketch by artist Douglas Land
Martin Winters appeared in federal court Wednesday. Sketch by artist Douglas Land Martin Winters appeared in federal court Wednesday. Sketch by artist Douglas Land
VALRICO, FL (WFLA) - A US Magistrate refused to grant bond on Wednesday afternoon for the leader of a doomsday preppers group who had been on the run until his arrest earlier in the day.

Martin Howard Winters lives in Valrico was wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for making destructive devices. He was arrested on Wednesday after turning himself in to authorities. Winters appeared in court Wednesday afternoon where Magistrate Thomas Wilson said he is a clear and convincing threat to the community. Winters faces several counts of manufacture of explosive devices.

According to FBI, Winters is the head of a group called the River Otter Preppers. Preppers are people who believe in the end of the world as described by the Book of Revelation in the Bible. They make preparations for the doomsday. Agents said Winters made "destructive devices" among other things he did to get ready for the end of the world.

Agents say they found at least 17 destructive devices during a search of Winter's home. They found a few device elements, including rod holders and a mousetrap, a notebook, an "aerial" and a green leafy substance. They also seized two automatic rifles.

FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier says Winters arrived at the Tampa field office with two attorneys and his daughter on Wednesday. He appeared wet, dehydrated and hungry; it looked like he'd been in the woods since Monday.

"We were hoping for a peaceful resolution and we got that today," FBI officials said.

Winters declined to answer any questions and was booked into custody by US Marshals.

FBI agents tried to approach Winters on Monday, but he drove away, then abandoned his car and ran. 

It was revealed in court on Wednesday that Winters had two of his teenage grandchildren in the car with him when he sped away from federal agents. He had been on the run since then.

Related: FBI: Valrico man wanted for making destructive devices

U.S. Magistrate Thomas Wilson said he would not set a bond for Winters.

"I consider him a risk of flight because of what he did.", said Wilson.

The magistrate ruled there is clear and convincing evidence Winters is a danger to the community.

Winters' daughters were in the courtroom for the ruling and broke down in tears, they declined to speak to the media as they left.

The search warrant for Winters' property at 3032 Williams Boulevard stated that Winters illegally used "straw buyers" to purchase multiple AR-15 rifles which he buried in strategic locations on his properties. Winters also told an undercover FBI employee that he would booby-trap trees on his property to repel government agents.

FBI agents arrested a few other men in connection with Winters case.

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