Billings man facing firearms charges after home searched
A Billings man arrested Tuesday as law enforcement closed a block of Howard Avenue to search his home told federal agents he knew he was banned from having guns and tried to have law enforcement shoot and kill him to avoid going to prison.
The defendant, John Edward Terry, 38, of 1123 Howard Ave., told agents after his arrest that if they would have found him at his house, he would have armed himself with a rifle and ballistic vest and forced law enforcement “to shoot and kill him,” court records said.
Terry appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday on a criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and with possession of an unregistered firearm.
Terry waived a preliminary hearing. The case will be presented to a grand jury for indictment. He remains in custody.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby, noting the circumstances of Terry’s arrest, commended law enforcement for handling the situation in a way that ensured the safety of everyone.
Law enforcement officers arrested Terry after an investigation in which witnesses said he was illegally possessing guns, participated in tactical training and shooting sessions and espoused conspiracy theories about the government.
During the search of Terry’s house, agents found six firearms, three silencers and thousands of rounds of ammunitions of various makes and calibers, the complaint said.
An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested Terry after he left his home and walked to a nearby convenience store. The agent attempted to contact Terry when he left the store, but Terry ran and led the agent on a chase through a residential neighborhood.
When the agent confronted Terry at the intersection of St. Johns Avenue and 11th Street West, Terry began reaching into the waistband of his pants and indicated he was reaching for a gun, the complaint said.
Terry repeatedly asked the agent to shoot him because he didn’t want to go to prison. Additional law enforcement officers arrived a short time later and took Terry into custody.
Officers did not find a gun on Terry, but, while being detained near the intersection, Terry said, “the one time I leave my house without my gun,” the complaint continued.
Terry, having been convicted of a felony drug charge in 1999 in Michigan, is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, according to the complaint.
The investigation started in early November after the manager of Code Red Tactical, a firearms business, reported that Terry often shoots at the business, attended firearms training and may be prohibited from having firearms. The manager told investigators he was concerned about public safety and decided to report Terry’s activity, the complaint said.
Other witnesses told investigators that Terry “reportedly spent $20,000 to $30,000 on tactical gear,” had a firearms safe in his home, typically carried a Glock semi-automatic pistol containing a 33-round magazine on his person and had a “go-bag” packed with firearms, ammunition, food and clothing near his front door in case he was forced to leave quickly.
In addition, Terry discussed with a witness theories that Israel and those associated with the Jewish culture were to blame for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the complaint said. Terry also discussed “initiating a revolution in the United States and blames the United States Congress for many of the problems” he has identified in the U.S., court records continued.
The witness also had not heard Terry make any physical threats but that Terry said on multiple occasions that he would “die in a blaze of glory” and was willing to die in combat, the complaint said.
The investigation determined that Terry had not been granted a concealed weapons permit and was not registered with the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Records as having firearms.
Terry also told agents that he would not buy firearms from a federal firearms licensee because he knew he was prohibited from having guns and that the guns found at his home he had purchased at area gun shows or online.
The guns seized from Terry’s house included a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle, a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun and four 9mm semi-automatic pistols.