CHANDLER, Ariz. — An ammunition dealer who had been named a person of interest in connection with the Las Vegas mass shooting was charged in a Nevada federal court Friday with manufacturing armor-piercing bullets. The charges came on the same day that the dealer, Douglas Haig, held a news conference to say he was innocent and had only briefly met the gunman, Stephen Paddock, when Mr. Paddock bought 720 rounds of ammunition from him in September.
Investigators said they had found Mr. Haig’s fingerprints on unfired armor-piercing ammunition inside the hotel room Mr. Paddock used as his shooting perch. Mr. Haig, 55, did not have the license needed to manufacture such ammunition, according to the charges filed by federal authorities.
Mr. Haig said he met Mr. Paddock briefly last fall at a gun show in Phoenix, about a month before the shooting. Mr. Paddock then came to Mr. Haig’s home in Mesa, Ariz., to buy 720 rounds of tracer ammunition, which leaves behind a trail of light when it is used. Mr. Paddock asked for a box to carry the rounds to his car and Mr. Haig gave him a used box that included his name and address. That was their only transaction, he said.
The name and address on the box is what led investigators to Mr. Haig.
Federal investigators said that Mr. Haig told them that he made “reload” ammunition, essentially creating new bullets from used cartridges, but told them that he did not sell them. But investigators found that two of the unfired armor-piercing bullets found in Mr. Paddock’s hotel room had been created by Mr. Haig.
Mr. Haig told reporters on Friday at a news conference that he has received death threats in the days since his name was accidentally released in police warrants made public by a Nevada judge on Tuesday. Mr. Haig said he sold ammunition as a hobby for nearly 20 years in addition to working full time as an aerospace engineer.
“I had no contribution to what Paddock did,” Mr. Haig said. “I had no way to see into his mind. The product that I sold him had absolutely nothing to do with what he did. I’m a vendor. I’m a merchant whose name was released.”
One of his lawyers, Marc Victor, said at the news conference that Mr. Haig, “to the best of his knowledge, has never sold ammunition to anybody who has ever used it for any unlawful purpose whatsoever.” Federal and Arizona laws allow people to resell ammunition and do not require buyers to complete background checks.
Investigators from the F.B.I. and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contacted Mr. Haig about 11 hours after the Oct. 1 shooting, he said. He spoke with them “without any hesitation” and gave them examples of the ammunition he had sold to Mr. Paddock. He spoke with investigators three additional times.
Mr. Haig did not even know about the shooting until investigators contacted him, he said, because he had gone to work at 6 a.m. and had not seen the news. When he heard the news he said he felt “revulsion” and was “horrified that this man would do something like that.”
Mr. Haig said that he had no suspicion about Mr. Paddock at all in what he called “a routine type of transaction” for a “very common” amount. The two met at a Phoenix gun show and Mr. Paddock called him the next week. “He pulled up very well dressed, very well groomed, very polite, respectful,” Mr. Haig said. “He paid me, put it in his car, went on his way — at no time did he seem suspicious.”
The product was surplus military tracer ammunition, Mr. Haig said, and Mr. Paddock said he planned to go to the desert to “put on a light show” with his friends.
He said that he did not believe any of the ammunition was used in Las Vegas. If it had been, he said, it would have left an obvious trail of red streaks in the sky, which might have made it easier for police officers to detect where the gunfire was coming from.
Mr. Haig’s lawyer repeatedly said at the news conference that his client had nothing to hide and that “the reason he opts to speak to the press today is basically to protect his reputation.” Mr. Haig’s lawyers did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking further comment.
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