DAYTON (REUTERS) - A friend of the Ohio man who killed nine people, including his own sister, in Dayton this month was charged on Monday (Aug 12) with lying about his illegal drug use on a form when he bought a pistol, federal prosecutors said.
The Aug 4 attack, which ended when police shot and killed 24-year-old Connor Betts, was one of three-high profile mass shootings over three weeks that stunned the United States and stoked its long-running debate on gun rights.
US Attorney Benjamin Glassman charged Betts’ friend, Ethan Kollie, 24, of Kettering, with making a false statement regarding firearms.
He was also charged with possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance, according to court documents.
Glassman said during a news conference in Dayton announcing the charges that Kollie told federal agents that he had purchased body armour, an accessory for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a 100-round double drum magazine that Betts used during the shooting.
Kollie kept the items at his apartment to help Betts hide them from Betts’ parents, according to an affidavit.
“There is no evidence and no allegation ... that Kollie intentionally participated in the planning” of the Aug 4 shooting, Glassman said, noting that the investigation into the shooting continues.
“That’s not what this case is about.”
Betts opened fire outside a bar in the Oregon District of Dayton at 1 a.m. on Aug 4. The shooting ended rapidly when police who were nearby moved in and shot Betts dead. Those killed included Betts’ sister.
During an interview at Kollie’s home on the day of the shooting, agents smelled marijuana and noticed a marijuana bong and a Micro Draco pistol in his possession, he said.
Later that week, authorities interviewed Kollie again, this time at work, where he told them he was a gun owner and that he had done hard drugs with Betts as well as marijuana and acid four or five times a week from 2014 to 2015, Glassman said.
Kollie also told authorities he smokes marijuana every day and had been doing so for 10 years, Glassman said.
Authorities obtained the form that Kollie used to purchase the pistol last May and found that the man answered “No” to a question asking if he was an unlawful drug user or addicted to marijuana, a depressant or stimulant or any other controlled substance.
“He admitted that he did remember filing out the form ... and indicating falsely that he was not a user of illegal drugs,” Glassman said.
“He knew that if he answered truthfully, he would not have received the firearm that he was buying.”
Kollie, who was arrested Friday, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The FBI said last week that Betts had a history of violent obsessions and had mused about committing mass murder before his rampage in Dayton’s historic downtown.