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Press Release

Defendant Charged with Making False Statements to Obtain Firearms Allegedly Used in Shooting of Federal Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Richland, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that a federal Grand Jury has returned a seven-count indictment charging Defendant Kenneth Rankin Gazzaway II, 47, of Newport, Washington, with making False Statements Connected to the Purchase of Firearms, making False Statements to a Federal Firearms Licensee, and Possessing a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number. Gazzaway is alleged to have illegally obtained firearms that were used in the shooting of an undercover officer on November 5, 2021.

According to court documents, on November 5, 2021, Defendant Randy Holmes is alleged to have attempted to rob an undercover ATF Special Agent at gunpoint. Holmes and the ATF agent were both wounded by gunfire during the incident. The FBI’s investigation revealed that the gun Holmes is alleged to have used to shoot the undercover ATF officer was a Glock Model 17 9mm pistol recovered at the scene.

An ATF Firearms Trace Report identifies Gazzaway as the purchaser of that particular Glock Model 17, and indicates that he purchased that firearm, along with several others, in August 2021. Another of the guns Gazzaway purchased is alleged to have been recovered in Kennewick, Washington, in connection with a different robbery in which shots were fired in November 2021. Gazzaway is alleged to have engaged in other multiple-firearm purchases as well. In fact, between June and August 2021, Gazzaway is alleged to have purchased at least eleven handguns in two bulk purchases. At least three of those eleven firearms are alleged to have been recovered in criminal investigations less than 100 days after Gazzaway purchased them. The basis of Gazzaway’s federal charges is that he knowingly failed to state that he was a user of methamphetamine when he purchased these firearms. Gazzaway is detained pending trial.

“Part of making Eastern Washington a safe and strong community is ensuring that guns are only in the hands of people who should have them. There is a reason that firearm purchase forms require potential buyers to state whether they abuse illegal narcotics,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref. “The United States Attorney’s Office will vigorously pursue illegal firearm conduct wherever it occurs in Eastern Washington, and no matter how many links there may be in a chain of ownership.” If he is convicted on all charges, Gazzaway faces potential sentencing exposure of 45 years in federal custody.

“Mr. Gazzaway is alleged to have made false statements when purchasing firearms, including firearms that are alleged to have been used shortly thereafter in connection with the commission of crimes – including the shooting of one of our agents. This case demonstrates the dangers of illegal narcotic users purchasing and possessing firearms,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “We will vigorously investigate anyone who illegally purchases or possesses firearms, particularly when those firearms fall into the hands of those who commit other crimes.”

This case is being investigated by ATF, and prosecuted by Caitlin A. Baunsgard, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated February 17, 2022

Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 2:22-CR-00025-SMJ