FBI Doing Gun Roundup To Try To Solve Tom Wales Murder


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Drizzt
July 16, 2003, 03:54 PM
FBI Doing Gun Roundup To Try To Solve Tom Wales Murder

July 15, 2003

By Michelle Esteban


SEATTLE - Gun owners say the FBI is rounding up pistols in a nationwide effort to solve the murder of Tom Wales, a federal prosecutor from Seattle.

It's been 19 months since Wales was gunned down in his Queen Anne home. The feds are looking for Makarov pistols -- a special kind of gun that may have been used in the killing.

Wade's Gun Shop in Bellevue describes it as an inexpensive, but "very reliable" pistol.

According to "Mak" owners, the FBI is looking for pistols that have been fitted with replacement barrels.

John Grove of Virginia, a Mak owner, got a call from the FBI in January. "(The agent) said he was trying to find a particular weapon used in a murder and they were rounding up all these Federal Arms Corporation barrels from Makarovs," says Grove.

Federal Arms is a Minnesota-based importer. "I think it's a fishing expedition...I was surprised they (FBI) received my purchase records," says Grove.

The FBI confiscated Grove's gun, and he's not the only one: "Here's another one: 'They are indeed working the case of U.S. Attorney Tom Wales,' " said Dave Workman, senior editor at "Gun Week." He uncovered dozens of chat room postings - most of them Mak owners talking about the FBI, the Mak pistols, and the Tom Wales murder investigation.

"This has been on the internet for months," says Workman.

One source told Gun Week the Makarov in question was outfitted with a replacement barrel and that the killer used the wrong ammunition. "That's why they're doing all these tests, they're trying to find a rifling match," says Workman. He says a match could link a shell casing to a pistol, and to the killer.

KOMO 4 News talked to the FBI. They won't deny or confirm the pistol roundup -- they won't comment on pending investigations.

"I don't have any doubt, I think it is linked to the Wales case," says Workman. "I hope the FBI really goes out and gets the bad guy who's done it."

We do know the FBI is offering a million dollar reward to find Tom Wales killer.

Earlier this year, we reported a Seattle Times investigation had linked the Wales case to a Bellevue pilot. The paper reported Wales prosecuted the man for fraud and that the pilot was the center of a secret grand jury investigation.

http://www.komotv.com/stories/26049.htm

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Kharn
July 16, 2003, 04:01 PM
One source told Gun Week the Makarov in question was outfitted with a replacement barrel and that the killer used the wrong ammunition. Probably .380 in a 9x18 Mak?

Kharn

JohnBT
July 16, 2003, 05:05 PM
Hope they catch the coward.

JT

El Tejon
July 16, 2003, 05:05 PM
Hmmm, wonder if the science majors in the media will wonder aloud what impact "fingerprinting" would have on a replacement barrel with improper ammo???

Just ask TFLer Erich about the confusion wrought using the "wrong" ammo in an alleged murder will have on the prosecution!:p

Standing Wolf
July 16, 2003, 09:50 PM
We do know the FBI is offering a million dollar reward to find Tom Wales killer.

How about a journalist who knows when to use apostrophes?

sanchezero
July 16, 2003, 10:45 PM
Are they looking thru those destroyed purchase records and insta-checks?

It must be tough as a Jr Secret Agent, dumpster diving and patching all those little shredded strips back together...


:uhoh:

Kharn
July 16, 2003, 10:57 PM
Sanchezero:
From what I read on Falfiles (FAC has a forum on that board where one of their higher-ups, 'Harlan At FAC', visits and posts to regularly), the court apparently (FAC isnt allowed to dilvulge whats going on, so people are trying to piece together the whole situation) issued an injunction/subpeona against FAC and they had to give up their sales records on the Mak barrels. Thats how the owners are being tracked down, and probably not NICS.

Kharn

tyme
July 16, 2003, 11:43 PM
Let me get this straight.

”The person who did this attack on Tom knew that Tom went down to his computer every night about 10 o'clock to check his e-mails. Knew where his motion sensor lights were, was able to evade those lights," said Bruce Gryniewski, executive director, Washington CeaseFire. [1]

Yet the murderer is going to keep the replacement barrel and/or firearm around, unmodified, so that the ever-persistent FBI will have solid evidence should they ever locate and get a court order to confiscate the weapon?

Does anyone know with reasonable certainty that they're using illegally-kept NICS data rather than gathered 4473s?

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/04/16/eveningnews/main506332.shtml

brookstexas
July 17, 2003, 12:12 AM
Tyme said "Does anyone know with reasonable certainty that they're using illegally-kept NICS data rather than gathered 4473s?"

Seems they are contacting people that ordered replacement barrels only not 4473 data

BUT- a net search about the recent D.C. sniper killings will show they DO have records going back over 10 years as they started showing up at AR15 owners houses, and as a year later some of these good citizens who let the FBI 'borrow" their guns haven't had them returned.
BT

tyme
July 17, 2003, 01:00 AM
Oh so they know the manufacturer of the replacement barrel used and are forward-tracing all of them? Sounds fun. Also sounds like a chain-of-evidence problem going from "perp used x barrel" to "let's confiscate all of the barrels in the area and check them."

Diesle
July 17, 2003, 04:36 AM
Are they returning the guns/barrels to the owners after they have been ruled out?


Diesle

Raymond VanDerLinden
July 17, 2003, 04:45 AM
And it shouldn't take more than 5 or 10 years :rolleyes:

Kharn
July 17, 2003, 08:42 AM
Brookstexas:
MD has required registration of skinny-barreled (3/4"+ diameter over the entire length is exempt) AR15s when sold in the state since 1996. There also arent very many gunstores near DC in Maryland, so sending a few agents to each store to check the bound books wouldnt be that difficult.

Kharn

HankB
July 17, 2003, 09:58 AM
Something doesn't check here . . . the postings say the FBI is picking up barrels and guns . . . wouldn't they need a separate warrant for each one they confiscate? :confused:

And is there some legal basis for forcing FAC to not talk about it? :confused:

I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I just don't understand the legal issues involved.

Jeff White
July 17, 2003, 10:44 AM
Hank,

As long as the owners voluntarily surrendered the barrels, there would be no need for a warrant.

Jeff

HankB
July 17, 2003, 02:02 PM
Jeff, that makes it sound like a traffic cop asking permission to search your trunk during a stop . . . but the story says the FBI confiscated the guy's pistol. That doesn't exactly sound like a voluntary surrender.

Anyway, like someone already said, if the killer used an aftermarket barrel, he probably dumped it, and probably the whole gun, right after the murder. Seems like the FBI is desparately clutching at straws . . . and it makes me wonder how much effort they'd expend investigating if a nobody - like a THR member? - had been the victim.

Jeff White
July 17, 2003, 02:19 PM
Hank,
I was only stating that is the nice Fibbie showed up at someone's door and asked if they could have his pistol or barrel as part of an investigation, many people would comply out of the mistaken belief that if they showed they were cooperative and had nothing to hide, the nice Fibbie would go away.

So what does confiscated mean? To you and I it means one thing, to a journalist it could mean something totally different. To the man who had his gun taken, it really doesn't matter if he voluntarily surrendered it or if they came with a court order. If they are doing this on a large scale, I rather doubt that they are getting individual search warrants. I can't imagine a federal judge issuing a search warrant on the basis that a weapon of this type was used in this murder and according to the records the imorter gave us, this guy owns one. I would be willing to bet that this fishing expedition is relying on cooperation from the gun owners.

You would be surprised how much a police officer can get just by asking for it. This would be especially so for an FBI agent, because the FBI being involved suggests a special importance in most sheeple's minds.

And no the FBI wouldn't be involved in the investigation of the murder of an ordinary citizen. Generally murder is only a federal crime if it occurs on federal land or involves a federal official.

Jeff

vmi93
July 17, 2003, 08:17 PM
Hey, those guys have to do something to look busy for the four or five years they have to wait till the perp's brother or a local LEO solve the case.

p35
July 17, 2003, 09:58 PM
From what I read, if they don't get the barrel voluntarily they subpoena the owner to appear before a federal grand jury and bring his gun with him. One account said it was done with .380 ammo fired through a 9x18 barrel, which apparently would make it very hard to get good matches off the bullets. The fired casings were found at the scene, though, and they could probably do a match to those too.

I agree that it's a remote lead, but they've tried everything else to catch the SOB behind this. I didn't care for Tom Wale's politics, but all indications are that he was assassinated because of his work as a Federal prosecutor, and that's way over the line. I can't knock the FBI for putting a full court press on this.

Nathaniel Firethorn
July 18, 2003, 12:48 PM
Two points:

1. The perp has prolly thrown the barrel off the Bainbridge Island Ferry by now.

2. Why the heck is Federal Arms keeping all these customer records lying around, waiting to be subpoenaed?

- pdmoderator

John Ross
July 18, 2003, 01:01 PM
I read that they were looking for a "threaded barrel" and this made no sense to me. I could not believe that an aftermarket company's threaded barrels would have a unique interior dimension or configuration compared to their unthreaded ones.

My initial assumption was that some newsie had confused "threading" with "rifling" but it never got corrected so I don't know what to think.

I don't know anything about Maks, seem to remember they're .360" or something? Never miked the ammo for my Stechkin. What else commonly fires this round?

My own question is the timing. Assume what we're being told is accurate (perhaps a bad assumption.) If the slugs in Wales' body were .360" and about the only gun that fires that is a Mak, they'd have gotten *that* far in 24 hours.

If they observed that the lands and grooves were different dimensions than any military Mak contractor produced (another day or two of work), we're talking aftermarket barrel. How many aftermarket Mak barrel suppliers are there? Half a dozen? Less? The feds should have gotten to where they are now in weeks if not days. It is now over a year and a half since the murder.

I got an email yesterday about this from a fellow who said

"There seems to be some question as to whether the feds are really trying to solve the crime, or are looking for a gun owner they can stick with a handy frameup with evidence they've manufactured in their own *crime lab*. I don't expect I need to tell you of the FBI history of that sort of thing..."

Curiouser and curiouser.

My prediction: If the Wales murder is solved it will be because someone dropped a dime.

JR

Jack T.
July 18, 2003, 01:28 PM
FWIW: Those of you who read Shooting Sports Retailer. . .There is a short article about two chaps who have patented a way to imprint a "bar code" on bullets while they go through the barrell. I looked for a link that had more details, but was unable to find anything. I am at work and don't have the article in front of me, but IIRC, they use a laser to imprint a unique barcode multiple times on the bullet as it travels through the barrel. They are hoping to get funding from some outfit in Kansas.

Food for thought. . .

Tropical Z
July 18, 2003, 01:36 PM
I know this much,if they came for mine id refuse and take a video of me dropping it overboard into the ocean!!! This isnt 1939 Germany!!!!!!!!!!:cuss:

TallPine
July 18, 2003, 02:11 PM
From what I read, if they don't get the barrel voluntarily they subpoena the owner to appear before a federal grand jury and bring his gun with him.

Oh yeah, right ... bring a gun into a courtroom ...?

0007
July 18, 2003, 02:39 PM
Excuse me, but does this mean that the next time someone gets shot with a gun in .45ACP caliber that the fbies are going to start going around and picking up all the 1911s and the clones and checking them? It seem to me that this action is so far over the edge of what is "legal" as to boggle the imagination. I would hope that the least that come out of this is that companies selling parts for firearms would do the purchasers the courtesy of destroying the records of their sales in a timely manner. :banghead: :fire:

TallPine
July 18, 2003, 03:03 PM
Excuse me, but does this mean that the next time someone gets shot with a gun in .45ACP caliber that the fbies are going to start going around and picking up all the 1911s and the clones and checking them?

I think you're catching on ...

Jeff White
July 18, 2003, 03:07 PM
It seem to me that this action is so far over the edge of what is "legal" as to boggle the imagination.

It in no way shape or form is over the edge of being legal. People, cars, trucks, boats (anything you care to name) that may be associated with a crime are all checked out. It's totallly on the up and up. It is over the edge of stupidity. Talk about grasping at straws how many thousands of these barrels were shipped all over the country? The number of manhours they are spending running down these barrels is insane. Either that or there were only a few hundred sold, making this a much more reasonable task. Still to think that anyone who would do such a professional hit, would hang onto evidence like that barrel is stretching things a lot.

I find it odd that they called a gunowner in Virginia about a crime that occurred in Washington state.

You don't suppose it's politically motivated in that if they found the barrel by this method, they could go before congress and say, "If we only had a national ballistic fingerprint database, we could have found the murderer in days." Think how much more funding a National Ballistic Fingerprint Database could bring to the FBI.

Jeff

Master Blaster
July 18, 2003, 04:45 PM
News Flash for the FBI: Gun barrels dont have unique fingerprints like people do.

1. The print can be easily changed with sandpaper.

2. since many barrels are made from the same cutter, which leaves a negative impression of the cutter on the barrel, many barrels made on the same day will have an Identical fingerprint.

3. The person who did this crime would have gotten rid of the firearm anyway so they are just harrassing law abiding citizens.

The FBI should know all this stuff, and so will any ballistics expert they employ.

They just want to go around and eyeball everyone to see if someone will confess or act guilty it seems to be their MO these days. JMHO

foghornl
July 18, 2003, 04:55 PM
Metal polish, 10 minutes and a dremel tool = No Match

Jeff White
July 18, 2003, 05:06 PM
What makes you think that an bureaucrat out to increase his budget cares if the ballistic fingerprint program would accomplish anything?

Since when was it a requirement for a progam to actually be viable for it to be implemented? :rolleyes:

All I was saying is that I can see Chuckie Schumer, DiFi or Dick Durbin getting a hold of this case in a press conference and using it to push for their new defacto registration scheme...Ballistic Fingerprinting.

Think about it, it's a win/win situation for them. The FBI gets more money, more technicians, more supervisory positions, probably at least one more supergrade civil service position....the anits get defacto registration and we get to pay for it all.

Jeff

makarov1
July 19, 2003, 01:03 AM
Brilliant detective work by the FBI! Our hard-earned tax dollars are at work, with the FBI searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack, when the needle they are searching for is probably either buried in a remote wooded area or at the bottom of a cold lake. Given the fact that a makarov sells for $180 retail tops, the suspect is extremely unlikely to keep the weapon in his possesion. What the Feds don't realize is that when you fire .380 out of a 9.2 mm barrell, you get really poor accuracy and a short barrel life. .380 will damage a 9.2 mm chrome-lined barrel in a relatively short amount of time, hence changing the lands and grooves that will alter any type of "fingerprint". Great work Federal Government! Let's invent new and more creative ways to waste more tax money. The lead agents are too ignorant to realize that "ballistic fingerprinting" is junk science invented by the Million MoM Marchers. How many ways are there to say stupid? I know of one way.


FBI

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