Fugitive US Militant Ammon Bundy Geolocated to Utah

In February 2024, American anti-government agitator Ammon Bundy posted a video with a provocative title to his YouTube channel: ‘Want to know where Ammon Bundy is?’ 

Earlier in 2023, Bundy was ordered by an Idaho court to pay more than US$50 million in damages after accusing the state’s largest hospital of child trafficking and leading a campaign of harassment against its staff. A few months later, in November 2023, a warrant was issued for Bundy’s arrest by an Idaho judge. 

He promptly went into hiding with his whereabouts not publicly known — until now. 

Whether he meant to or not, Bundy provided just enough information in the February video — a few frames of a school district calendar on a refrigerator —  to lead Bellingcat to his location in Washington County, in southern Utah.

Bellingcat reached out to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, which issued the arrest warrant, for comment on this piece; we received no reply at the time of publication.

“I have no concerns, I have not been hiding but working and providing for my family”, said Bundy in a message sent to Bellingcat shortly after the publication of this article. “At anytime peace officers could find me if they wish. I pray that Utah has a stronger sense to protect free speech than Idaho does”, he wrote.

Who is Ammon Bundy?

Ammon Bundy is a prominent American anti-government militant, a one-time candidate for governor of the state of Idaho and the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. In 2014, Cliven Bundy and his sons led an armed standoff against Bureau of Land Management rangers who were attempting to seize hundreds of cattle that the Bundy family had reportedly let graze on public land without paying taxes since 1993. 

In 2016, Ammon Bundy led the takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, another standoff with law enforcement which culminated in the death of a rancher and the indictment of 27 of the occupiers. While several of the activists involved in both clashes with federal officials were handed prison sentences, the Bundys were found not guilty of any criminal charges in the Malheur incident, and the Nevada standoff case resulted in a mistrial. Ammon Bundy was later convicted of trespassing and sentenced to community service after storming the Idaho State Capitol during a 2020 protest against coronavirus-related legislation. Rather than complete the required community service, Bundy instead attempted to submit hours he had spent working for his campaign for governor.

Ammon Bundy refused to participate in the St. Luke’s case against him and did not show up in court. He appeared at the Ada County Courthouse to represent himself at an arraignment hearing on his contempt charge on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, in Boise, Idaho. (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman/TNS/ABACAPRESS.COM

Robert Futrell, a professor of sociology at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, told Bellingcat that Ammon Bundy was someone “who sees himself leading the righteous few against the wicked — defined as those he and his family and followers see as limiting their rights.” 

According to Futrell, who researches social movements and political extremism in the U.S., the Bundy family including Ammon ascribe to a “unique apocalyptic version” of the Mormon faith, and see themselves as being on a mission from God. They believe, says Futrell, that the U.S. constitution was divinely inspired and that the foundation of the United States is a step toward establishing a ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ on Earth. The Bundys, said Futrell, “use this divine vision to justify all kinds of actions.”

In 2023 Bundy spearheaded a series of protests against Idaho’s biggest hospital, the St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center, after the state’s health and welfare authorities removed and hospitalized a baby, reportedly the grandson of one of his associates, for malnutrition.

The actions of Bundy and his associates led to a lockdown at the hospital and the doxxing and threatening of doctors, police officers and child protective services (CPS) workers as well as a local judge.

In July 2023, an Idaho jury found Ammon Bundy and several associates liable for $52.5 million in damages in a defamation case stemming from the child’s hospitalisation. Throughout the legal proceedings, Bundy refused to appear in district court, leading to his arrest in August 2023 on contempt charges.

“The defamation lawsuit greatly diminished [Bundy’s] stature and organisation,” said Devin Burghart, president and executive director of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR), who produced a report on the activities of Bundy’s network. Burghart was an expert witness for the plaintiffs in Bundy’s civil case.

In November 2023, a new arrest warrant for a second contempt charge was filed against Bundy after he failed to appear for the first day of the trial concerning his earlier contempt charge. 

A screenshot of Ammon Bundy’s arrest warrant and mugshot from the Ada County Sheriff’s Office

In an email to the judge, Bundy wrote, “My entire life has been consumed by political prosecutions and I must now do what is necessary to sustain my family.”

And then, Ammon Bundy disappeared.

‘Want to know where Ammon Bundy is?’

In the aforementioned February 24, 2024, YouTube video, Bundy talks to the camera while walking through a house. In several frames near the beginning of the footage, as Bundy walks through a kitchen, what appears to be a school calendar is visible on the refrigerator.

As reported in The Atlantic, rumours quickly surfaced after Bundy’s disappearance that he had fled to southern Utah, but there were no first-hand accounts or substantive proof. On this basis, Bellingcat searched for online versions of local school calendars in the area, and found a match — a calendar for Iron County Schools in southern Utah for January to May 2024.

Left: The Iron County Schools calendar for January to May 2024. Right: A screenshot from a video posted by Ammon Bundy to YouTube on February 20, 2024, titled “Want to know where Ammon Bundy is?”

This was not the only video Bundy posted since the November 2023 warrant.

Bundy has a devoted following on social media where he regularly posts videos to tens of thousands of followers. It took only weeks after Bundy’s disappearance for him to resume his online activity.

For example, between December 2023 and March 2024, Bundy posted four videos from an indoor location. The consistent background and wall decoration across this footage indicates that he has very likely been staying in the same place since December 2023.

Screenshots from videos posted by Ammon Bundy to YouTube between December 2023 and March 2024.

Two of these videos provided further corroboration of Bundy’s location in southern Utah.

A day after posting the video including the school calendar, Bundy posted an 18-minute livestream to YouTube titled “Why our country will not survive.” In this video, Bundy paces outside while speaking to the camera.

Visible in these videos are a number of distinguishing features that allowed Bellingcat to narrow down Bundy’s location to a specific property in Washington County, near its border with Iron County. Bellingcat has chosen not to publicly identify the exact location in this article.

The first step in the geolocation process was to locate a group of mountains in the background of several of the frames.

Bellingcat identified possible mountains near Iron County and searched for possible vantage points of those mountains using Google Earth and Google Street View imagery.

By using the photofit function on PeakVisor, a tool originally created for mountaineers, Bellingcat found that the landscape in Bundy’s livestream matched to Mount Baldy in Washington County, Utah, as viewed facing south-west.

Top: Frame from a livestream posted by Ammon Bundy to YouTube on February 21, 2024, titled “Why our country will not survive, with overlaid PeakVisor photofit showing close agreement between the mountain peaks and the livestream frame. Bottom: Google Street View capture of the same mountains.

A view seen in one of Bundy’s livestreams from February 21, 2024, allowed us to match the mountains to these hills located in Washington County, which allowed us to locate where the livestream was filmed.

Livestreaming from Utah

A subsequent livestream from Bundy gave more confirmation of his presence in southern Utah. On March 18, 2024, he posted another livestream to YouTube, titled ‘$10.000 is still up for grabs’. 

Bundy filmed the eight-minute video while driving a truck on a highway with one of his children in the passenger seat. During the video, he stated that members of his family “came to visit us last week” and that he and his child were currently “driving up north together.”

Screenshot from Ammon Bundy’s March 18 YouTube video. Annotation by Bellingcat.

Thanks to visual clues alongside the highway as Bundy drove, Bellingcat was able to geolocate the video to a northbound stretch of Interstate 15 in southern Utah. One of these clues was a red signpost along the side of the road.

The video was filmed entirely in Beaver County, which borders Iron County to the north.

Google Streetview image of the same section of Interstate 15 showing matching elements. Annotation by Bellingcat.

The IREHR’s Devin Burghart cautions that, despite his network diminishing in size thanks to the defamation ruling, Bundy and his followers could still be dangerous. Burghart told Bellingcat that Bundy exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to build a network of tens of thousands across the U.S. and Canada. 

“[Bundy] cultivated a dangerous network of militia members, conspiracists, anti-vaxxers, white nationalists, and others into an army of followers,” Burghart said. “While he may be in hiding, remnants of that network still remain.”

Leah Sottile, a journalist who has covered the Bundy family extensively, described Bundy as a “far-right provocateur” and further warned that his followers could pose a danger in the future, based on their actions in the past.

“Ammon Bundy has consistently sought the aid of well-armed people since he came into the public eye in 2014,” Sottile told Bellingcat. “Given his ever-increasing rhetoric and this pattern of seeking armed vigilantes to help him, I can’t see why he, or the people around him, would do anything different now.”

This article was updated on March 28, 2024 to include comment from Ammon Bundy.

Michael Colborne and Tristan Lee contributed research.

Bellingcat is a non-profit and the ability to carry out our work is dependent on the kind support of individual donors. If you would like to support our work, you can do so here. You can also subscribe to our Patreon channel here. Subscribe to our Newsletter and follow us on Twitter here and Mastodon here.