Federal authorities charged an Arizona man Friday for manufacturing and selling armor piercing ammunition to the gunman responsible for October’s massacre on the Las Vegas strip.
Douglas Haig, 55, of Mesa, Arizona, was named in a criminal complaint filed in a Las Vegas federal court just days after Las Vegas authorities unsealed hundreds of pages of search warrants involving the incident. Among the details, Haig was identified as a person of interest.
According to the criminal complaint, federal agents interviewed Haig the day after the shooting about his connection to gunman Stephen Paddock. Investigators had found an Amazon shipping box with Haig’s address on the label in Paddock’s hotel room at Mandalay Bay, the location where he had opened fire into a music festival. Haig admitted to selling Paddock ammunition after agents revealed details connecting him to Paddock.
Haig operated an Internet ammo business that advertised selling tracer and incendiary ammunition. The complaint states that tracer rounds are chemically treated so the bullet emits a glow after exiting the muzzle of a weapon, typically a machine gun. Federal law considers tracers a synonym for incendiary ammunition. Federal authorities say manufacturing and selling such rounds without a license violates federal law.
Haig told agents Paddock approached him and his associate at a Phoenix gun show in September asking about buying ammo in bulk, the complaint says. Since they had a short supply and the show was closing for the day, Haig and Paddock exchanged phone numbers so they could coordinate a future transaction.
Then, on Sept. 19, Haig and Paddock arranged to meet at Haig’s house, where Paddock bought 600 rounds of .308 tracer rounds and an unspecified amount of .223 ammo, the complaint says. Haig packed the ammo in the Amazon shipping box, Paddock paid and left.
During the interview, Haig told agents that he reloaded armor piercing ammunition, but clarified that he did not sell those rounds. Yet, FBI forensic work on two unfired cartridges found in Paddock’s room had Haig’s fingerprints and toolmarks consistent with Haig’s reloading equipment, the complaint says.
Haig’s associate, who was unnamed in the complaint, confirmed with agents that Haig reloaded armor piercing ammunition. Also, the associate told agents that a couple weeks after the Las Vegas shooting that Haig sold him all his armor piercing ammunition for $20 because he did not want to be in possession of it, the complaint says.
At a press conference on Feb. 2, Haig told reporters that he never sensed anything suspicious about Paddock when they met at the gun show nor when they met later in person. “I had no contribution to what Paddock did. I had no way to see into his mind,” Haig said. “The product that I sold him had absolutely nothing to do with what he did. I’m a vendor, a merchant whose name was released.”
Haig’s attorney, Marc Victor, said Haig had no way to know what Paddock had been planning. “There are many people who interacted with Mr. Paddock in the days before this tragedy and none of them were able to determine that this guy was just getting ready to do some horrible act and it’s just too much to ask of Doug to just be able to figure this out in what’s otherwise a very routine transaction,” Victor said.
On Oct. 1, Paddock opened fire into the crowded Route 91 Harvest country music festival from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. He killed 58 people and injured some 850 others, according to a report by Las Vegas authorities.
The only other person identified as a person of interest was Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, but investigators ruled her out as a possible suspect.
Haig was released on Bond, but is due back in court on Feb. 15. If convicted of the charges, he could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.