By Mitch Borden
The Lubbock man who illegally sold an AR-style rifle to the gunman who carried out a deadly attack in West Texas last year has pleaded guilty to illegally dealing firearms.
Marcus Anthony Braziel admitted to federal authorities he illegally sold weapons without a license—including, in 2016, to Seth Ator, the Odessa gunman who killed seven people and injured dozens more last year.
On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox announced Braziel pleaded guilty to selling and manufacturing firearms without a license and hiding his profits from the IRS.
“As this case makes clear, dealing firearms without a license isn’t some obscure, technical violation,” Nealy Cox said in a press release. “It is unlawful conduct that has real-world impact and the potential for devastating results.”
From 2014 to 2018, Braziel built and sold guns out of his garage and in the parking lot of a sporting goods store, according to court documents. And on Oct. 8, 2016, he sold an AR-style rifle to Ator, the man who would use that rifle to carry out the deadly mass shooting in Odessa.
Days after Ator drove from Midland County into Odessa, seemingly shooting at random for 90 minutes, Braziel’s home in Lubbock was raided by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm and Explosives.
During their search, authorities confiscated 29 firearms.
Private, in-person gun sales don’t require background checks in Texas, but federal authorities say Braziel was “engaged in the business of selling firearms” and he should have gotten a license and performed background checks.
Doing that would have most likely flagged Ator, who was not legally allowed to possess a gun because of a reported history with mental illness.
Braziel, along with a Kentucky-based gun parts manufacturer, is also facing a civil lawsuit. Relatives of two victims, Leilah Hernandez and Joseph Griffith, are asking for over $1 million in damages.
Braziel’s sentencing date is next year. He faces up to five years in prison.