Feds allege in court papers man linked to sniper case sought silencer, talked to witness about causing damage
By John Solomon, Associated Press, 10/24/2002 22:17
WASHINGTON (AP) John Allen Muhammad, an Army veteran linked to the Washington-area sniper shootings, tried to equip an assault rifle with a silencer four months ago and told a friend about the damage such a weapon could cause, federal authorities allege in court documents.
''Can you imagine the damage you could do if you could shoot with a silencer,'' the court papers quote Muhammad as telling his former Army buddy, Robert Edward Holmes. Holmes was interviewed by the FBI this week.
The court papers, obtained by The Associated Press, were filed this week in federal court in Seattle as the sniper task force was preparing to arrest Muhammad on a federal weapons violation. They make no mention of the sniper attacks but do shed light on Muhammad's involvement with weapons.
The papers include the government's arrest warrant application for Muhammad and list three aliases: John Williams, Wayne Weeks and Wayne Weekley.
The papers alleged Muhammad violated a court protective order obtained by one of his ex-wives when he purchased or obtained a weapon identified as a semiautomatic .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle.
That rifle uses the same caliber ammunition as those police have said have been used in the sniper attacks that left 10 people dead and three wounded.
A Bushmaster AR-15 rifle was found in the car Muhammad was in when police arrested him Thursday. The gun has been linked by ballistics to 11 of those 14 shootings, said Michael Bouchard, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents determined that Muhammad filed a form that transferred the weapon on or about May 23, 2000, from a gun shop in Tacoma, Wash., where he was living at the time.
''The rifle John Allen Muhammad possessed on May 23, 2000 must have come into the state of Washington from outside the state,'' the court papers allege.
The court papers also detail information that Holmes provided the FBI in an interview on Tuesday concerning three events in which he witnessed Muhammad possessing or talking about guns. The papers said the two men knew each other since November 1985 when they both served at Fort Lewis Army Base outside Tacoma.
The papers state that Muhammad visited Holmes' residence in Tacoma three times over the last six months. The first time Muhammad and an unidentified associate displayed an AR-15 assault rifle and at least one other rifle, authorities alleged.
On the second occasion, four months ago, Holmes ''saw Muhammad in possession of an AR-15 assault rifle with a scope which he carried in a silver, aluminum briefcase,'' the court documents stated.
During that conversation, Muhammad indicated he was planning to take the weapon to a firing range to ''zero it'' so that the scope and rifle barrel were aligned for accurate shooting, the court papers said.
Holmes told the FBI he saw Muhammad in possession of a book on making a silencer or sound suppressor for a weapon and at that time made his comment about the damage such a weapon could cause.
Holmes told authorities that Muhammad had ''left several items at Mr. Holmes' residence which had been used by John Allen Muhammad in his attempt to build a silencer for the AR-15,'' the court records said.