Complaint: 2 out-of-state men in Kenosha for Trump rally had cache of guns, ammo ‘to loot and possibly pick people off’
PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wis. — Two out-of-state men who had a cache of guns and ammunition at a Kenosha County hotel Tuesday are now facing federal charges of illegal firearm possession, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Matthew D. Krueger’s office announced Thursday that 40-year-old Michael M. Karmo and 33-year-old Cody E. Smith, who are coworkers and roommates in Hartville, Missouri, have been charged in a federal criminal complaint with illegal possession of firearms after being arrested Tuesday at a hotel in Pleasant Prairie.
At about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, FBI agents found and detained Karmo and Smith at the hotel, which is located about 7 miles from Kenosha. After receiving consent to search Karmo and Smith’s vehicle and hotel room, FBI agents recovered an Armory AR-15 assault rifle, a Mossberg 500 AB 12-Gauge shotgun, two handguns, a silencer, ammunition, body armor, a drone and other materials, officials said.
According to the complaint, the Kenosha Police Department advised the FBI that a law enforcement agency in Iowa had received a tip that Karmo and an unidentified male were in possession of firearms and headed from Missouri to Kenosha “to loot and possibly ‘pick people off.'”
A witness also told authorities that Karmo had been talking about conspiracy theories and “other ‘crazy’ political talk” and that Karmo was not in the right mindset to have a firearm, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, Smith told investigators that he and Karmo had traveled to Wisconsin to attend the rally Tuesday for President Donald Trump outside of the high school in Kenosha. Smith said they wanted to see proof of the rioting in Kenosha. He told officials that two pistols were locked in the glove compartment of Karmos’ vehicle while they were at the rally. He said they brought the guns because they didn’t want to leave them unattended in the hotel room.
Also included in the criminal complaint were screenshots of posts on Karmo’s Facebook page showing him posing with guns in recent years. One post that appeared to be timestamped June 2018 reads, “Will the real homeland security please stand up…”
Karmo has prior felony convictions, according to the complaint. Smith has a prior misdemeanor domestic battery conviction and acknowledged regular drug use. Because of their convictions, on the day they were found with the guns, Karmo and Smith were prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.
Karmo told authorities that he didn’t own any firearms, just an air rifle, he never carried a pistol and that he only brought body armor and a drone on their trip. He also claimed that he didn’t know anything about any suppressors or silencers found in the vehicle.
Smith told investigators that the silencer was Karmo’s and Smith didn’t think the silencer worked, but Karmo wanted to test it. Smith also said one of the pistols belonged to Karmo, who bought it from another coworker.
The criminal complaint charges Karmo with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The criminal complaint charges Smith with aiding and abetting a felon’s possession of firearms, possession of firearms and ammunition by a prohibited person and possession of firearms and ammunition by a prohibited person unlawful user of a controlled substance. Each of offense carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervision after release from prison.
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