Seller of gun used in West Texas mass shooting pleads guilty

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The man who sold an AR-15-style rifle used in a last year’s mass shooting that killed seven people in West Texas pleaded guilty Wednesday to unlicensed firearms dealing.

Marcus Anthony Braziel, 45, of Lubbock, also pleaded guilty to concealing the proceeds from weapons sales from the IRS, according to a statement from federal prosecutors. He faces up to five years in federal prison. No sentencing date has been set.

Braziel admitted selling the rifle that Seth Aaron Ator, 36, of Odessa, used when he killed seven people and wounded 25 others in the Midland-Odessa area. The rampage ended when police shot Ator dead.

According to court documents, Braziel admitted selling Ator an AR-15-style rifle on Oct. 8, 2016 — nearly three years before the Aug. 31, 2019, shooting rampage.

Documents said Ator, who had been adjudicated “mentally defective” and was therefore legally prohibited from possessing firearms, first attempted to purchase a gun from a sporting goods store but was rejected after his mental status was flagged in the national database. He circumvented that system by buying a gun from Braziel, who did not run background checks on any of his buyers.

Although background checks are not required for in-state, private gun sales, Braziel admitted he was “engaged in the business of selling firearms” and should have been licensed and checking his clients’ backgrounds. He admitted routinely buying firearm firing mechanisms, using milling equipment to build them into guns, then selling them for profits of $100-$200.

In a four-year span, Braziel inadvertently sold firearms to four people who were barred from having guns: a convicted felon, a man under felony indictment, an immigrant in the U.S. illegally, and Ator.

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