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Fire on County Road 134

Hay and logs burn next to a pickup full of flammable materials as a last effort by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to keep law enforcement at bay as protesters left the Morton County Road 134 bridge Thursday afternoon, Oct. 27, 2016, near Cannon Ball.

A pipeline protester known as "Rattler" is charged in federal court with setting fires to block law enforcement from moving people out of the northern "front line" camps on Oct. 27.

Michael Markus is accused of pouring gasoline on barricades made of logs, fallen trees and tires at the County Road 134 bridge, according to a complaint signed by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent Derek Hill.

Fires were set there and on N.D. Highway 1806 throughout the day-long standoff.

Markus, of Pine Ridge, S.D., was identified as a suspect based on photos taken from a Dakota Access Pipeline helicopter monitoring the scene that day, according to the complaint. Law enforcement compared the photos from the plane to photos of Markus on social media. 

Markus was interviewed by Hill and a Morton County deputy while in jail on Jan. 12 for an unrelated criminal trespass charge, according to the complaint. There, he allegedly admitted to pouring gasoline on the barricades but denied setting the fire. 

Markus is charged with causing a civil disorder and using fire to commit a federal felony offense. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

He is being held at the Burleigh County jail pending a detention hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at the U.S. District Courthouse in Bismarck. 

A message left for his attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

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Reach Caroline Grueskin at 701-250-8225 or at caroline.grueskin@bismarcktribune.com

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