Man charged over armour-piercing bullets sold to Las Vegas massacre gunman

Man charged over armour-piercing bullets sold to Las Vegas massacre gunman

A hobby ammunition dealer who sold bullets to the gunman who carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history has been charged with manufacturing armour-piercing bullets, according to court documents.

Key points:

  • Aerospace engineer sold 720 rounds of tracer ammunition to Las Vegas shooter
  • He did not have a licence to manufacture armour-piercing ammunition
  • Haig says Paddock said "he was going to go out to the desert to put on a light show"

Unfired armour-piercing ammunition was found inside the Las Vegas hotel room where Stephen Paddock launched the October 1 attack had the fingerprints of salesman Douglas Haig, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Phoenix.

It said Mr Haig did not have a licence to manufacture armour-piercing ammunition.

Mr Haig has acknowledged selling 720 rounds of tracer ammunition to Paddock in the weeks before the shooting that killed 58 people. Tracer bullets contain a pyrotechnic charge that illuminates the path of fired bullets so shooters can see whether their aim is correct.

The criminal charge involves another type of ammunition — armour-piercing bullets.

The documents did say if any of the ammunition tied to Paddock was used in the attack and Las Vegas police would not say whether armour-piercing bullets were used in the shooting, but referred to a preliminary report saying some rifle magazines were loaded with armour-piercing ammunition.

Mr Haig, a 55-year-old aerospace engineer who sold ammunition as a hobby for about 25 years, was charged 35 minutes before holding a news conference where he said he did not notice anything suspicious when he sold the tracer rounds to Paddock.

He told investigators that when Paddock bought the ammunition at his home in suburban Phoenix, Paddock went to his car to get gloves and put them on before taking the box from Mr Haig, the complaint said.

"I had no contribution to what Paddock did," Mr Haig told reporters, adding that there was nothing unusual about the type or quantity of ammunition the shooter bought.

"I had no way to see into his mind."

The two armour-piercing bullets found in Paddock's hotel room with Mr Haig's fingerprints had an "incendiary capsule" on their noses, the court documents said.

A forensic analysis of those two bullets had tool marks consistent with the equipment in Mr Haig's backyard workshop, according to the complaint.

It also alleges that FBI agents searching Mr Haig's home on October 19 found armour-piercing ammunition.

Paddock said he was going 'put on a light show'

Mr Haig and his business partner, whose name was not provided, sold 40 to 50 rounds of incendiary rounds to Paddock in late August at a Las Vegas gun show, according to the complaint.

The next month, Haig said he met Paddock at a Phoenix gun show and that he was well-dressed and polite.

He did not have the quantity of tracer ammunition on hand that Paddock was seeking, so Paddock contacted him several days later and lined up a sale at Mr Haig's home.

Mr Haig said Paddock told him that "he was going to go out to the desert to put on a light show, either with or for his friends. I can't remember whether he used the word 'with' or 'for.' But he said that he was going out at night to shoot it with friends."

Mr Haig arose in the investigation when a box with his name and address was found in the Mandalay Bay hotel suite where Paddock opened fire on a music festival below.

He gave the box to Paddock to carry the 720 rounds of tracer ammunition from the sale.

Mr Haig said he was shocked and sickened when a federal agent informed him of the massacre 11 hours after it unfolded.

A law enforcement official previously said investigators do not believe Mr Haig had any involvement or knowledge of the planned attack when he sold ammunition to Paddock.

The complaint said Mr Haig sold such bullets in more than 100 instances to customers across the United States, including Nevada, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and South Carolina.

He appeared in court on Friday and was released under the condition he not possess guns or ammunition.

If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000.