FBI: Friend helped hide gear used in mas­sacre

Ethan Kol­lie, 24, faces fed­eral firearms vi­o­la­tion un­re­lated to Ore­gon District shoot­ing. Of­fi­cials don’t be­lieve Kol­lie knew Connor Betts was pre­par­ing for deadly at­tack.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Cor­nelius Fro­lik, Will Garbe and Lynn Hulsey Staff Writ­ers

The Ore­gon District gun­man had a friend pur­chase the body ar­mor, weapons parts and a 100drum mag­a­zine he used in the mas­sacre so his par­ents wouldn’t know he had them, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties al­leged in a com­plaint first ob­tained by this news out­let.

The friend, Ethan Kol­lie, told au­thor­i­ties he stored the pur­chases at his Ket­ter­ing apart­ment, and about 10 weeks ago helped shooter Connor Betts assem­ble the weapon used in the Aug. 4 mas­sacre, the com­plaint says.

Kol­lie, 24, was ar­rested Fri­day evening in Beaver­creek on sus­pi­cion of a firearms vi­o­la­tion un­re­lated to the Ore­gon District shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint and jail records. Kol­lie, whose con­cealed carry per­mit was con­fis­cated by au­thor­i­ties, faces as many as 15 years in fed­eral prison if convicted of the pair of of­fenses.

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties said they don’t have ev­i­dence to sug­gest Kol­lie knew he was help­ing Betts pre­pare for a mass shoot­ing.

“Al­though th­ese charges have arisen out of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing that took place on Aug. 4 in the Ore­gon District, Mr. Kol­lie does not stand ac­cused of in­ten­tion­ally par­tic­i­pat­ing in the plan­ning of that shoot­ing,” said U.S. At­tor­ney Ben­jamin Glass­man. “There is no ev­i­dence of that, there’s no al­le­ga­tion of that.”

Kol­lie is charged with pos­ses­sion of a firearm by an un­law­ful user of any con­trolled sub­stance and mak­ing false state­ments or rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the United States At­tor­ney stat­ing that there was no in­di­ca­tion that Mr. Kol­lie knew that he was as­sist­ing Betts in the shoot­ing,” de­fense at­tor­ney Nicholas Gounaris said Mon­day af­ter

noon.

“Prior to his arrest on Aug. 9, Mr. Kol­lie par­tic­i­pated in three sep­a­rate in­ter­views with fed­eral au­thor­i­ties in or­der to pro­vide help­ful in­for­ma­tion to aid in­ves­ti­ga­tors,” Gounaris said. “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.”

Glass­man said au­thor­i­ties will prose­cute any­one they dis­cover broke the law as they con­tinue their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into one of the worst mass shoot­ings in Ohio his­tory.

In­di­vid­u­als who con­trib­uted in any way to the events on Aug. 4 and who broke the law will be held ac­count­able and crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble, and fed­eral agents will not ig­nore ev­i­dence of other crimes, Glass­man said.

Kol­lie told au­thor­i­ties he and Betts did “hard drugs,” mar­i­juana and acid to­gether four to five times a week between 2014 and 2015.

“Not only is pos­sess­ing con­trolled sub­stances il­le­gal, but pos­sess­ing con­trolled sub­stances and pos­sess­ing a firearm is it­self a crime,” Glass­man said.

Kol­lie told fed­eral au­thor­i­ties he pur­chased the items and equip­ment for Betts, then kept them in his apart­ment to help Betts hide them from his par­ents, the com­plaint says.

Kol­lie said that, about 10 weeks ago, he helped Betts assem­ble the weapon used in the Ore­gon District shoot­ing, the com­plaint says. The drum mag­a­zine ar­rived about six to eight weeks ago.

Betts opened fire in the Ore­gon District, re­sult­ing in the deaths of nine peo­ple be­fore po­lice shot and killed him just sec­onds af­ter the ram­page be­gan.

Betts also in­jured dozens, ei­ther through gun­fire or in the en­su­ing chaos near sev­eral Fifth Street bars, in­clud­ing Ned Pep­pers, Hole in the Wall, Blind Bob’s and New­coms.

Betts wielded a semi-au­to­matic pis­tol that po­lice say was mod­i­fied to act like a ri­fle, with an at­tached drum mag­a­zine that could hold up to 100 .223-cal­iber rounds. Po­lice say he may have had up to 250 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion on him, and they found a shot­gun in his car.

“I can say that the pur­chases at is­sue here were some of the equip­ment used on Aug. 4,” Glass­man said.

The com­plaint says Kol­lie was in­ter­viewed at his house by the FBI and agents from the Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives in the shoot­ing’s aftermath.

“While in­side, the agents smelled mar­i­juana and ob­served, in plain sight, para­pher­na­lia con­sis­tent with smok­ing mar­i­juana, in­clud­ing what appeared to be a ‘bong,’” the agent said in the com­plaint. Agents also ob­served a pis­tol, the com­plaint says.

Agents went to Kol­lie’s work Thurs­day, where he told the agents he and Betts had done “hard drugs,” mar­i­juana and acid to­gether sev­eral times a week in 2014 and 2015, the com­plaint says.

Kol­lie also told the agents he still used mar­i­juana. The agent’s com­plaint said that Kol­lie had checked “no” on the ATF form that must be com­pleted to pur­chase a firearm from a lo­cal dealer.

“Kol­lie stated that he an­swered ‘no’ to the ques­tion re­gard­ing drug use,” the com­plaint says. “When asked why he lied, Kol­lie stated he knew that if he told the truth about his drug use, he would not be al­lowed to pur­chase a firearm, so he lied and an­swered ‘no.’”

The form states that the use or pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana re­mains un­law­ful un­der fed­eral law, re­gard­less of whether it has been le­gal­ized or de­crim­i­nal­ized in the state where the ap­pli­cant re­sides.

The ATF Back­ground Check Form 4473 is de­signed to try to pre­vent peo­ple who can­not own firearms legally from ap­ply­ing for the weapons, Glass­man said.

The sys­tem re­lies on peo­ple be­ing hon­est, and if ap­pli­cants are dis­hon­est and caught, they will be pros­e­cuted and will face as many as five years in fed­eral prison, Glass­man said.

“That form re­quires peo­ple to fill it out truth­fully un­der penalty of fed­eral pros­e­cu­tion,” he said.

The U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice rou­tinely pros­e­cutes “straw” gun buy­ers for ly­ing or fal­si­fy­ing form 4473, Glass­man said. Straw pur­chases oc­cur when one per­son buys guns for some­one else who can­not legally buy them.

There was no in­di­ca­tion that Betts would have been more or less dis­qual­i­fied from buy­ing the firearm pieces than Kol­lie, Glass­man said.

He said at this time au­thor­i­ties can­not say whether Betts fal­si­fied any fed­eral firearms forms.

Kol­lie would not be pro­hib­ited from pur­chas­ing the dou­ble drum mag­a­zine even though he used il­le­gal drugs, but he is not al­lowed to pos­sess firearms, Glass­man said.

FBI spe­cial agent in charge Todd Wick­er­ham said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the deadly shoot­ing is on­go­ing and in­cludes lots of ev­i­dence to re­view.

Wick­er­ham said in­ves­ti­ga­tors last week were able to ac­cess the pri­mary cell­phone Betts had on him dur­ing his ram­page.

“We are still pro­cess­ing and go­ing through that,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously that’s a high pri­or­ity for us.”

The FBI last week opened its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Betts, al­leg­ing he ex­plored “spe­cific vi­o­lent ide­olo­gies” be­fore the at­tack. The bureau didn’t say which ide­olo­gies, nor did they iden­tify a mo­tive for the at­tack.

TY GREENLEES / STAFF

U.S. At­tor­ney Ben­jamin C. Glass­man talks about the arrest of Ethan Kol­lie, a friend of Con­ner Betts. With Glass­man (from left) are Todd Wick­er­ham, spe­cial agent in charge, FBI; Vi­pal Pa­tel, first as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney; and Day­ton Po­lice Chief Richard Biehl.

Ethan Kol­lie, 24, was ar­rested Fri­day evening in Beaver­creek on sus­pi­cion of a firearms vi­o­la­tion.

The weapon used by Connor Betts to kill nine peo­ple in the Ore­gon District on Aug. 4.

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