FBI agents recently warned community leaders in the Detroit area about a possible racist plot by a convicted felon and alleged neo-Nazi sympathizer who was arrested after he was discovered with an arsenal of assault rifles and other weapons, a law enforcement official tells NBC News.
“The FBI averted a catastrophe in this case, there’s no doubt about it,” Steven M. Dettelbach, the U.S. attorney in Cleveland, said in an interview.
New details about the case of Richard Schmidt, the owner of a sporting goods store in Bowling Green, Ohio, dramatically highlight what law enforcement officials say are major loopholes in the nation’s gun laws. Schmidt, 47, is a convicted felon who spent 13 years in Ohio state prison for a homicide after being convicted of killing a man and wounding two others in a shooting during a traffic stop, according to state prison records. Under federal law, Schmidt, who was released on parole in 2003, is barred from possessing any firearms.
Yet when FBI agents last December searched his home and store, they discovered a cache of 18 weapons that included AR-15 assault rifles, 9 mm Ruger and Sig Sauer pistols, shotguns, high-capacity magazines and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition. Schmidt was originally reported to have been arrested on charges of trafficking in counterfeit goods, but was indicted last month on four federal charges —including possessing illegal weapons, body armor and ammunition…
Dettelbach, who is overseeing the case, said that federal agents have been unable to determine how and where Schmidt obtained his weapons, prompting officials to conclude he likely acquired them at gun shows or through private sales — where under federal law no background checks are required.
“It’s scary,” he said about Schmidt’s arsenal of weapons. “It’s not … that I won’t say” where Schmidt got his guns. “It’s that sitting here today as a senior federal law enforcement official in northern Ohio, I can’t say…”
Two community leaders briefed on the case tell NBC News that agents also found a notebook in which Schmidt had listed the names, addresses and other personal information of Detroit area community leaders. Although Schmidt was already in custody, and remains in jail pending trial, the evidence in the notebook prompted agents to warn the leaders about what they had found.
As long as the NRA keeps those campaign checks rolling in, I doubt if we’ll see anyone noticing sales of firearms to convicted felons any time soon.