- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2019

Federal prosecutors announced charges Monday against Ethan Kollie and accused him of buying weaponry used by Connor Betts in last week’s mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

So far, however, he is charged only in connection with a weapon he still had in his possession when authorities caught up to him last week.

According to federal agents, Mr. Kollie is a daily drug user, which could have made him ineligible to pass the background check for a firearm he bought in May. But he lied on the federal form, the FBI says.

Agents who talked with Mr. Kollie in the hours after the Dayton shooting said they saw drugs and a firearm in his apartment in Kettering, Ohio. When they talked with him again later in the week, he admitted to daily drug use and had a concealed weapon — for which he said he had a permit.

He also admitted to having used drugs with Betts four or five times a week at one point, according to an FBI affidavit.

Mr. Kollie, 24, was arrested Friday and had his first court date, where he was ordered kept in custody until a detention hearing Wednesday.

Benjamin C. Glassman, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Ohio, said Mr. Kollie bought the body armor, large-capacity drum magazine and a part of the AR-15-style weapon Betts used in the Aug. 4 attack.

“The purchases that are at issue here were some of the equipment that was used,” the prosecutor said.

Still, he said Mr. Kollie has not been accused of being part of the planning or execution of the attack.

Nick Gounaris, Mr. Kollie’s lawyer, said he wouldn’t respond immediately to the charges, but did thank Mr. Glassman for making clear his client wasn’t part of the planning.

Mr. Kollie participated in three separate interviews with federal authorities in order to provide helpful information to aid investigators. He does not deny his friendship with Connor Betts and he was as shocked and surprised as everyone else that Mr. Betts committed the violent and senseless massacre in the Oregon District,” Mr. Gounaris said.

Betts opened fire on a popular night spot in Dayton in the early hours of Aug. 4, killing nine people and wounding more than two dozen others in 30 seconds of gunfire. His sister was among those who were killed.

Police then shot and killed Betts.

His ability to get a firearm and in particular the high-capacity drum magazine that allowed him to fire so many rounds in 30 seconds, combined with another mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, hours before Betts‘ rampage, has reignited the debate over access to firearms.

Options offered in Congress include banning future sales of semiautomatic rifles with military-style design features, expanding background checks to include sales between private parties, and stepping up punishment for people who should be denied firearms but attempt to buy them anyway.

FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents interviewed Mr. Kollie in the hours after the Aug. 4 shooting, and they said he expressed a fondness for guns and admitted he bought some of the materials used by Betts.

The agents, while talking to Mr. Kollie at his apartment, smelled marijuana, saw drug paraphernalia and spotted a pistol.

In a follow-up interview last week, Mr. Kollie admitted to agents that he and Betts did “hard drugs,” acid and marijuana, four or five times a week in 2014 and 2015, and Mr. Kollie said he himself smoked marijuana daily since he was 14, according to the FBI affidavit.

Mr. Kollie was carrying a concealed Taurus revolver, for which he said he was licensed, during that second interview.

Agents tracked down the form he filled out when he bought a Draco pistol in May and saw that he had denied being a drug user on the background check inquiry.

Lying on a federal firearms background check is a crime. But it has been rarely prosecuted.

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