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Feds: Dayton Gunman's Friend Helped Hide Body Armor And Ammo From Shooter's Parents

People leave flowers at a makeshift memorial for shooting victims at the Cielo Vista Mall Walmart, in El Paso, Texas.
Mark Ralston
AFP/Getty Images
People leave flowers at a makeshift memorial for shooting victims at the Cielo Vista Mall Walmart, in El Paso, Texas.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

The Dayton mass shooter had his friend buy him body armor, a gun accessory and a 100-round magazine allegedly used in the massacre this month. Prosecutors say the friend stored the items in his apartment to hide them from the shooter's parents, according to federal charges unsealed on Monday.

Federal officials say Ethan Kollie, 24, of Kettering, Ohio, was a longtime friend of gunman Connor Betts, but authorities are not alleging that Kollie helped plan the mass shooting in which nine people were killed and dozens of others injured.

Instead, federal officials say Kollie made false statements on federal forms for purchasing and possessing weapons — each count related to allegations that Kollie lied about his drug use on federal firearm documents.

Benjamin Glassman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, stressed that federal officials do not consider Kollie a conspirator in the mass shooting, but any crimes identified over the course of the investigation, whether directly related or not, will be pursued.

"Anyone who is discovered to have any criminal culpability for any act that ultimately is discovered through the investigation or contributed in any way to the events of August 4 in any way is going to be held criminally responsible," Glassman said at a news conference in Dayton, Ohio, on Monday.

Kollie allegedly told federal agents that he regularly used marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, which he grew at his apartment, and that he routinely took "micro-doses" of mushrooms because it provided him with energy and it was "fun."

Federal officials say Kollie told authorities that in addition to smoking marijuana regularly, he used "hard drugs," including acid, sometimes with Betts.

Kollie is accused of lying on a federal form, when he purchased a pistol for himself in May, that required him to answer whether he is a user of any drugs illegal under federal law. Kollie answered no, and officials say that this was a federal crime.

A lawyer for Kollie, Nicholas Gounaris, said in an emailed statement that his client was a friend of Betts but had no indication that Betts planned to carry out a mass shooting.

"He was as shocked and surprised as everyone else that Mr. Betts committed the violent and senseless massacre in the Oregon District," Gounaris said.

When FBI officials conducted a search warrant at Kollie's apartment, authorities say, he admitted that he bought body armor, an upper receiver for an AR-15 weapon and a 100-round double-drum magazine, all of which, prosecutors say, were used in the slaughter in Dayton's Oregon District, a vibrant strip that features bars and clubs that get especially packed on weekends.

Just after 1 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4, Betts approached a packed crowd in front of Ned Peppers bar and unloaded about 40 rounds in just 32 seconds. As he approached the door of the bar, where droves of people were seeking shelter, police shot and killed him.

Federal officials also said on Monday that authorities have unlocked a cellphone belonging to Betts. What prosecutors find on the phone will be part of the investigation.

"It was opened late last week," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Todd Wickerham. "And we're reviewing the contents now."

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Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.