MR #7 SNIPER CASE: TRUE LIES?
Dec 02, 2002 07:53 PST
By Jim Rarey
December 2, 2002
SNIPER CASE: TRUE LIES?
As court records and other documents have become available, a troubling
pattern of government willful inaction, suppression of relevant facts,
and misleading statements to the media has emerged.
The handling of circumstances around the Bushmaster rifle, alleged to be
the sniper weapon, by the ATF and FBI are incomprehensible and
inexcusable. Initially there was confusion over a similar Bushmaster
rifle Muhammad had purchased from Welcher’s Gun Shop in Tacoma,
Washington in December of 1999. The rifle was sold back to the gun shop
by Muhammad on May 23, 2000; two months after his ex-wife had obtained a
restraining order against him. It was his apparent possession of the
weapon after the date of the restraining order that was the basis of the
arrest warrant issued in Seattle less than 24 hours before his arrest.
There are contradictory explanations of the route of the weapon now
alleged to be the sniper rifle. The manufacturer, Bushmaster, says it
shipped the rifle to an unnamed distributor in June of 2002. A statement
from Bullseye Shooter Supply, the largest gun dealer in Tacoma, said the
weapon was received on July 2, but directly from the manufacturer.
There is also a discrepancy in the description of the rifle between that
of the gun store and the one said to have been found in the car when
Muhammad and Malvo were arrested. At the conclusion of an ATF
“investigation” as to why the store had no record of what happened to
the weapon after it was received, the store filed a theft report with
Tacoma police. Initially the storeowner Brian Borgelt (who incidentally
is a former sniper instructor) had said there’s “a pretty good
likelihood” Muhammad bought the rifle from his store.
In the report the rifle was described as having been fitted with a red
visible laser sight. No such accessory was reported on the inventory of
items recovered from the Chevrolet Caprice.
But the surprising thing is that Borgelt and the store are still in
business. A couple of years ago, in an ATF audit, Borgelt reportedly was
unable to account for 150 guns. Initial reports from the ATF said that
about 340 guns were missing at the start of the current audit. ATF
spokeswoman Martha Tebbenkamp said, “that number is not correct.”
However she refused to say what the correct number is or whether it is
higher or lower than the 340. She also refused to say what, if any,
sanctions might be imposed. However one of the store employees said they
received only a warning, nothing else.
The ATF has recently earned a reputation for coming down like a ton of
bricks on minor violations of only one or two missing records. Borgelt’s
treatment by the ATF tempts one to speculate he may be supplying
government operatives with weapons for whatever purpose or fronting for
the unnamed distributor.
But the distributor is not the only one that has remained nameless.
According to the New York Post, on the Monday before Muhammad and Malvo
were arrested, police got a tip from an unidentified Tacoma man. He said
Muhammad and/or Malvo had told him about the attempted robbery and
murder in Montgomery, Alabama giving details only the shooters would
know. The Post article said the police were investigating that lead when
the highly publicized call attributed to the sniper told the authorities
to take a look at the incident in Montgomery (later determined to be the
city in Alabama and not the county). The task force has never
acknowledged this bombshell.
A second person relevant to the investigation is anonymous to the
public. He told police Muhammad and Malvo lived with him for a couple of
months in Tacoma during which time they had access to his weapons
collection. One of the pistols in the collection was used in the murder
of the daughter of a woman who had worked for Muhammad at his auto
repair shop in Tacoma. Another pistol was used to shoot a couple of
bullets into the wall of a local synagogue. The Seattle Times believes
it knows who the man is and has requested an interview, which was
declined. It is not known if this man and the one who phoned in the tip
are one and the same.
If Tacoma (Pierce County) authorities decide to prosecute the mysterious
tipster would have to testify in public. But that’s not likely as the
chief criminal prosecutor for the county is saying the cost would
probably prohibit it.
Meanwhile, a number of potential witnesses to Muhammad’s involvement in
a document forgery ring and alien smuggling operation are being quietly
rounded up by U.S. authorities, not for prosecution but deportation.
One such person who entered the country with false documents supplied by
Muhammad is Antiguan Norman Manroe. Manroe was arrested on a drug charge
in Connecticut and was set to be released on $50,000 bail when federal
authorities intervened and took him into custody for deportation. Manroe
had forged documents for five identities.
In Antigua Manroe had been arrested and imprisoned under one of his
aliases for running drugs between Jamaica and Antigua. He had been in
jail for two months before Muhammad first arrived on the island nation.
Early on Muhammad visited Manroe in jail. Antigua authorities are
attempting to trace the connection but are hampered by the numerous
aliases both Manroe and Muhammad used.
The false document scandal has generated a firestorm in Antigua. The
opposition political party is demanding an independent investigation of
the bogus passports they say have been issued to Chinese and Russians
transiting the country. About 5,000 passports a year are issued in
The scandal has also lead to a combined effort of countries in the
Caribbean, including Antigua and Jamaica, to set up procedures to screen
deportees from the U.S. Antiguan authorities were notified by the INS
that about 12,000 Jamaicans would be deported from the U.S. by the end
of this year.
However, most scandalous of all is the ease with which Muhammad has
escaped prosecution and managed to avoid a “rap sheet” on the FBI’s
national database. In this writer’s previous article we mentioned
several instances where prosecution seemed warranted. In one case
Muhammad simply “walked away” from an Antigua police station after being
held for two days and disappeared into his welter of aliases.
In another he was apprehended in Florida bringing in two aliens with
false I.D. but was released without charges. His shoplifting charge in
Tacoma on which he skipped bail and an arrest warrant was issued is not
in the database. Neither was the restraining order his ex-wife obtained
New documents and reports disclose several other arrests that did not
appear on his record. Again in Florida Muhammad was arrested when caught
with false I.D. Immigration authorities say they referred it to the U.S.
Attorney who refused to prosecute. The U.S. Attorney’s office “denies it
has any record” of the incident. (That’s not the same thing as saying it
didn’t happen. Records can be shredded.)
Muhammad was also arrested twice in Tacoma for driving on a suspended
license. There was no prosecution and the arrests were not to be found
on the database.
The conclusion is inescapable that Muhammad was being protected by the
government for some reason. Was he undercover tasked with infiltrating
forgery and narcotics distribution rings or was he the real thing?
The most surreal aspect of the whole case is the shootings, the dialogue
between the task force and (supposedly) the snipers, and the denouement
at their capture. Despite Malvo’s alleged confession, the only real
evidence against the two is the ballistics from the rifle that was
recovered from the Chevrolet Caprice, or was it?
Except in “terrorism” cases, investigators are required to submit an
inventory of items seized pursuant to a search warrant promptly. We were
all treated to several hours of watching investigators mill around the
car, supposedly waiting for a search warrant to be approved. It was said
they were erring on the side of caution to make sure all the legal
technicalities were observed. The Caprice was eventually put in an
enclosed truck and taken to the ATF laboratory in Rockville, Maryland
When the inventory was submitted on October 29th by an FBI agent and an
ATF agent it listed a number of items found “in and around the Caprice.”
The second item listed was the Bushmaster rifle. Immediately below it
was the following footnote.
“Because of certain limitations associated with the scope of the warrant
not all of the above items were seized, even if observed. Additional
warrants are being secured to permit search and seizure of additional
The footnote certainly could not have legitimately referred to the
rifle. Both the warrant issued in Seattle on the 23rd and the one
obtained on the 24th pertained specifically to weapons along with any
other collateral materials pertinent to the investigation. The footnote
is a mystery since there is no indication that any additional warrants
were requested or obtained.
Early media reports that quoted police as saying no weapons were found
in the Caprice coupled with the strange footnote, might lead one to
believe the weapon did not make its appearance until after the arrests.
Another weird aspect of the inventory was the notation that (found) “On
the hood of the Caprice, a wallet containing drivers licenses in several
different names – but all bearing Muhammad’s photograph.” Does this
sound like a fugitive on the run or even a rational person leaving his
wallet on the hood while he takes a nap?
Maybe those people have something that believe Muhammad and Malvo were
under mind control and the phrase uttered by Chief Moose about trapped
like a duck in a noose was a trigger to let themselves be captured. What
do you think?
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Permission is granted to reproduce this article in its entirety.
The author is a freelance writer based in Romulus, Michigan. He is a
former newspaper editor and investigative reporter, a retired customs
administrator and accountant, and a student of history and the U.S.
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