Alleged New Hope shooter straw buyer could face charges

Alleged straw buyer could face federal charges

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The man arrested for allegedly purchasing the guns used in an attack at New Hope City Hall on Monday was released from jail overnight but could still be in trouble with the law.

That 42-year-old Golden Valley man was released from custody after the Hennepin County Attorney's Office did not file charges.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said that man picked up guns for New Hope City Hall shooter Raymond Kmetz who had purchased three guns through K-Bid online. Stanek called him a straw buyer, someone who buys items for someone who is otherwise unable. Due to mental health issues, Kmetz was not legally allowed to own guns.

Kmetz used one of those guns to shoot two New Hope police officers after a swearing-in ceremony Monday. They were injured and have since recovered. Kmetz was killed by police.

The father of the straw buyer said Saturday that his son did not know that Kmetz could not legally buy guns. He said the two were only acquaintances.

"My son plowed [snow] around his house and he [Kmetz] had an extra garage and told my son he could use it if he wanted to store something there," he said.

Criminal Defense Attorney Marsh Halberg, of Halberg Criminal Defense, is not connected with this case. He said the State has to prove the straw buyer knew Kmetz was not legally allowed to have weapons. But federal law is different.

"Generally, gun cases are handled by the federal government not the state government in this type of thing. I believe they will strongly prosecute this," said Halberg.

Here's why.

The straw buyer picked up the guns at Full Metal Gun Shop in Princeton, a federal firearms licensee clearinghouse to which K-Bid had shipped the guns. Owner Tony Buchholz said that the straw buyer appeared in every way to be a legitimate and legal buyer of guns. He gave his real name, passed a background check and checked a box on a federal firearms transaction form saying he was buying the guns for himself and not someone else. It did not appear that he was being coerced to buy the guns.

Halberg said checking the box could be fraud.

Also, when Buchholz asked the man why the name Raymond Kmetz was on the original online order, he told him, "That's just my online bidder name because I don't want people bothering me or calling me." Buccholz said that it is not unusual for someone to use a fake name online for the sake of privacy.

Hallberg says the straw buyer's explanation also sounds like fraud under federal law.

A spokesperson for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office said Saturday that it is working with the United States Attorney's Office to review the case.


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