A Mesa man who sold ammunition to the gunman in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history was charged in federal court in Las Vegas on Friday with conspiracy to manufacture and sell armor-piercing ammunition without a license.
The criminal complaint says unfired armor-piercing bullets found inside the Las Vegas hotel room where the attack was launched on Oct. 1 bore fingerprints of ammunition dealer Douglas Haig.
Fifty-eight people were killed in the attack on those attending a country-music festival, and hundreds of others were wounded.
The shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound before police could arrest him.
Haig, 55, operated an internet ammo business as a side job and sold high-powered ammunition at gun shows. He manufactured ammunition in a backyard workshop.
Ammo sale at Mesa house
According to the criminal complaint sworn by an FBI agent in Nevada and signed by a federal magistrate judge in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas Friday morning, Paddock tried to buy ammunition from Haig at gun shows in Las Vegas and Phoenix in August and in September, weeks before the Oct. 1 shooting.
Haig said Paddock bought at least 40 rounds from him at the Las Vegas gun show on Aug. 27. Paddock approached Haig’s booth at the Phoenix show Sept. 9, but Haig said he did not have on hand the amount of ammunition Paddock wanted to buy. So on Sept. 19, Paddock went to Haig’s Mesa home personally and bought 600 rounds of “tracer” ammunition and an undisclosed quantity of other ammunition.
Investigators were first led to Haig when they found his name and address on a shipping label on a box in Paddock’s hotel room after the shooting, and they deduced that Paddock had bought ammo from him.
Haig told the investigators that the ammunition found at the Las Vegas crime scene would not have “tool marks … consistent with his reloading tools.” Haig admitted he reloaded shells but said he didn’t sell the reloaded ammunition, according to the criminal complaint.
But investigators found the tool marks and Haig’s fingerprints on two armor-piercing/incendiary rounds from Paddock’s cache, according to the criminal complaint.
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Investigators also reportedly found armor-piercing ammunition in Haig’s residence and spoke to other people who bought the ammunition from him.
The criminal complaint also refers to an unnamed “associate” of Haig’s who was present during some of the encounters with Paddock.
Haig was charged with one count. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. The magistrate judge issued a warrant for his arrest after the complaint was filed.
Haig, attorney hold news conference
Haig and his attorney, Marc Victor, had called a news conference Friday morning after it was revealed earlier this week that Haig was considered to be a “person of interest” in the investigation of the Las Vegas massacre.
His identity became public Tuesday when a judge unsealed search warrants from the investigation; Haig’s name was supposed to have been redacted before the records were released.
“I’ve had people pounding at my door, death threats. One woman screaming through my door that I should be killed and I should die. It’s been not a lot of fun, quite frankly,” Haig said Friday outside Victor’s office. “It makes me feel horrible. People need to do their research, and think rather than react viscerally.”
Haig said he noticed nothing suspicious when he sold to Paddock.
In the Sept. 19 transaction, Paddock paid for the order in cash. He returned to his car to get and put on gloves before taking the ammunition, which Haig had loaded into an Amazon.com shipping box, according to the complaint.
“I hope that when today ends, people realize I wasn’t in collusion with Paddock,” Haig said. “That I was not in any way, shape or form associated with the horrible crime he committed.”