Dealer who sold ammo to Las Vegas shooter indicted
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona man who sold ammunition to the gunman in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history was charged Wednesday in Nevada on a charge of engaging in the business of making ammunition without a license.
The indictment against Douglas Haig of Mesa doesn’t mention his sales to Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people at a music festival 10 months ago from his hotel room in Las Vegas. The charge says Haig sold ammunition without a license from July 2016 until mid-October 2017, but makes no mention of the Las Vegas attack.
Prosecutors said in a statement that Haig sold armor-piercing ammunition throughout the United States, including Nevada, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming, and South Carolina.
Haig told investigators that he reloads ammunition, but doesn’t sell such cartridges to customers — and that none of the ammunition recovered in the Las Vegas attack would have tool marks consistent with his reloading equipment, prosecutors said.
The prosecutors also said Haig’s fingerprints were found on reloaded unfired .308-caliber cartridges inside Paddock’s hotel room. Authorities had previously said that armor-piercing ammunition recovered inside of Paddock’s room had tool marks consistent with Haig’s reloading equipment.
Marc Victor, an attorney in metro Phoenix who represents Haig, says his client will aggressively fight the Nevada charge. Victor also said he expects a separate federal case filed earlier this year in Arizona that charges Haig with manufacturing armor-piercing bullets will be dismissed in the coming days as a result of the Nevada indictment.
Victor said he was preparing to provide prosecutors with a response to evidence turned over in the Arizona case, but the prosecutors instead went ahead and indicted him in Nevada. “We are disappointed by that,” Victor said.
Haig, an aerospace engineer who sold ammunition as a hobby for about 25 years, had previously acknowledged selling 720 rounds of tracer ammunition to Paddock in the weeks before the attack. Tracer rounds, which are legal to sell, contain a pyrotechnic charge that illuminates the path of fired bullets so shooters can see whether their aim is correct.
The criminal charge filed against Haig in Arizona mentioned Paddock extensively.
Authorities, who haven’t said if any ammunition tied to Paddock was used in the attack, have said armor-piercing rounds were found by FBI agents during an Oct. 19 search of Haig’s home.
They also say a forensic analysis of the two armor-piercing cartridges found in Paddock’s hotel room with Haig’s fingerprints had tool marks consistent with equipment in Haig’s backyard workshop.
It’s illegal to manufacture and sell armor-piercing ammunition, but federal law allows certain exceptions, such as ammunition that’s intended to be used by government agencies within the United States, said Gary B. Wells, an attorney in Argyle, Texas, who specializes in firearms law and isn’t involved in Haig’s case.
A federal firearms license is generally required to legally manufacture armor-piercing ammunition. But people who receive permission from the government to make such ammunition wouldn’t need a license if they aren’t considered to be in the business of selling ammunition, Wells said.
The criminal complaint filed in Arizona said Haig didn’t have a license to make armor-piercing ammunition.
Haig has said he didn’t notice anything suspicious when he sold the tracer rounds to Paddock.
But the criminal complaint from Arizona said Haig told investigators that when Paddock bought ammunition at his home, Paddock went to his car to get gloves and put them on before taking a box to carry the tracer ammunition.
Haig arose in the investigation when a box with his name and address was found in the Mandalay Bay hotel suite where Paddock opened fire on people at a music festival below.
Haig has since closed his ammunition business.
Haig, who hasn’t entered a plea in the Arizona case, is scheduled to make his first court appearance in the Nevada case on Sept. 5.
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
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