A 22-year old Connecticut man, Brandon Wagshol, has been arrested by law enforcement agencies for posting a meme on social media that was claimed to be showing an “interest” towards committing a mass shooting. This information, combined with evidence that Wagshol was ordering rifle magazines from out of state lead to an arrest.
According to Connecticut's News 12, the Norwalk Police Department had received an anonymous tip about a meme posted by Wagshol. On the grounds of pre-crime, an officer took him into custody and proceeded to seize the legal firearms owned by the 22-year old registered under his father's name.
Wagshol's attorney Darnell Crosland said that he didn't make any comments on Facebook had only reshared memes.
“What I understand is that he didn't make any comments on Facebook, but there may have been other memes, as they call them, that he might have reposted,” said Darnell Crosland, who is representing Wagshol as his attorney.
The state's gun-crime prevention law known as a “red flag law” has resulted in the seizure of Wagshol's firearms that were supposedly purchased for undergoing firearm training.
A red flag law is a gun violence prevention law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves, and is a highly controversial law as many argue that it infringes on the right to bear arms.
It's a sign of the times and a very modern notion that law enforcement agencies are considering social media posts and the sharing of memes as a reason to state a “interest” in a crime. It was revealed that Wagshol made no effort to hide the firearms and gave a clear statement as to why he owned them.
“I drove to Halstead New Hampshire (sic) from Norwalk CT in about 3 hours to acquire 30 round magazines and ammunition to circumvent what I viewed as an unconstitutional restriction on the second amendment,” Wagshol said in his witness statement.
“I purchased 4 30 round magazines and 120 rounds of 300 Blackout ammunition for firearm training. I plan on building an 80% rifle kit which I purchased online from Ceratec, in California. I plan on completing the 80% firearm at my friend Alex's house in Easton. I did not have the intention of committing any mass shootings at all whatsoever,” he added.
“He made it clear to the police officers that he thought he was doing everything correct,” Wagshol's attorney said. “He wasn't trying to hide from the police and he gave a full statement for about an hour.”
Wagshol is held on a $250,000 bond.
Norwalk, CT Police Department appear to be confident that they have prevented a mass shooting.
Here is the full statement provided by Norwalk, CT Police Department:
Norwalk, CT- Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent-In-Charge Brian C. Turner, announce the arrest of Brandon Wagshol, 22 of Norwalk. Wagshol was arrested on August 15, 2019 and charged with 4 counts of Illegal Possession of Large Capacity Magazines.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation National Threat Operations Center (NTOC) received a tip that Wagshol was attempting to purchase large capacity rifle magazines from out of state. The FBI and the Norwalk Police Department began a joint investigation based upon this information. During the investigation it was revealed that Wagshol was buying rifle parts online in an attempt to build his own rifle. Wagshol had a Facebook post that showed his interest in committing a mass shooting. Based on the investigation, a risk search warrant was issued for Wagshol and his residence. During the evening of August 14, 2019, Wagshol was detained by Special Services Officers outside of his residence. The warrant was then executed by members of the Emergency Services Unit Tactical Response Team. During a search of the residence, officers seized .40 caliber handgun, .22 caliber rifle, rifle scope with laser, 4- firearm optic sites, firearm flashlight, numerous .40 caliber, .22 caliber and .300 Blackout rounds of ammunition, body armor with a titanium plate, camouflage shirt, pant and belt, ballistic helmet, tactical gloves, camouflage bag and computers. The firearms are registered to Wagshol's father who resides at the residence however they were accessible to Wagshol. Wagshol is being held on bond and will appear in the Norwalk Court on August 16, 2019.
“We are thankful for our partnership with the FBI and fantastic teamwork that quickly brought this investigation from a tip to an arrest” said Chief Thomas Kulhawik. “I applaud the excellent work of our officers and the FBI agents that assisted and remind people, if they see something, say something.”
“Today's arrest demonstrates the FBI's commitment to working closely with our local law enforcement partners to mitigate this type of threat to our area,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Turner. “With our local partners we gather, share and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. As in this case, a tip from a vigilant citizen helped the FBI and the Norwalk Police Department disrupt a potentially dangerous situation. We continue to urge the public to please remain alert and to report to law enforcement any suspicious activity that is observed either in person or online. We thank the Norwalk Police Department for their partnership in resolving this matter.”
Arrested: Brandon Wagshol, 22 of 11 Bedford Avenue unit P1 Norwalk
Charges: 4 counts of Illegal Possession of Large Capacity Magazines