Feds: Friend of Ohio gunman bought body armor, ammo magazine
A longtime friend of the Dayton gunman bought the body armor, a 100-round magazine and a key part of the gun used in the attack, but there’s no indication the man knew his friend was planning a massacre, federal agents said Monday.
Ethan Kollie told investigators that he also helped Connor Betts assemble the AR-15-style weapon about 10 weeks ago, according to a court document.
Kollie first spoke with investigators just hours after the assault and later said he bought the body armor, the magazine and the rifle’s upper receiver and kept the equipment at his apartment so Betts’ parents would not find it, the court filing said.
Federal investigators emphasized that there was no evidence that Kollie knew how Betts would use the equipment or that Kollie intentionally took part in the planning.
The accusations came as prosecutors unsealed charges against Kollie that were unrelated to the Aug. 4 shooting. Early that day, Betts opened fire in a popular entertainment district, killing his sister and eight others. Police killed Betts within 30 seconds outside a crowded bar, and authorities have said hundreds more people may have died if Betts had gotten inside.
Prosecutors accused Kollie of lying about not using marijuana on federal firearms forms in the purchase of a pistol that was not used in the shooting.
Possessing a firearm as an unlawful user of a controlled substance is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Making a false statement regarding firearms carries a potential maximum sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment.
Kollie fully cooperated with authorities before his arrest, his attorney said.
“He was as shocked and surprised as everyone else that Mr. Betts committed the massacre,” attorney Nick Gounaris said.
Gounaris would not comment on what Kollie thought his friend would do with the equipment.
Police have said there was nothing in Betts’ background to prevent him from buying the gun.
The weapon was purchased online from a dealer in Texas and shipped to another firearms dealer in the Dayton area, police said.
Betts and Kollie apparently had been friends for several years.
Kollie told agents that they smoked marijuana and used acid several times a week beginning in 2014 through 2015, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman.
Betts was with Kollie in 2016 when Betts was charged with driving under the influence, according to a police report from Bellbrook, where the gunman lived with his parents.
Investigators have not released a motive for the shooting.
Eight of the victims who died were shot multiple times, according to the Montgomery County coroner’s office. More than 30 others were hurt, including at least 14 with gunshot wounds, hospital officials and investigators said.
Just days after the shooting, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine proposed a package of gun-control measures , including requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales in Ohio and allowing courts to restrict firearms access for people perceived as threats.
Two state lawmakers on Monday reintroduced legislation that would restrict access to guns. One bill would establish universal background checks. The second would raise the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21.
Seewer reported from Toledo, Ohio, and Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed to this report.