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Press Release

Savage Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Possession of a Machine Gun

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

MINNEAPOLIS – A Savage man has pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a machine gun, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, in September of 2022, the FBI received tips from concerned citizens reporting disturbing behavior of a man at a firearm range, later identified as River William Smith, 21. In November and December 2022, Smith began communicating via a social media platform with an FBI confidential human source (the “CHS”). The FBI’s investigation revealed evidence that Smith was preparing for a violent exchange with police. Smith stated he is “pro mass shooting,” sympathized with the Parkland school shooter, and expressed admiration for the individual charged with the recent shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub. The FBI also discovered Smith had access to an AR-style rifle, handguns, body armor, and a Kevlar helmet. In online messages, Smith discussed learning about his “enemy” by watching police bodycam shootings online.

According to court documents, on November 17, 2022, Smith asked a second CHS for auto sears to convert his AR-15 style rifle and his Glock handgun into fully automatic machine guns. The CHS told Smith that he could obtain the auto sears for him, and Smith provided the CHS with a down payment of $60. On November 28, 2022, Smith asked whether the CHS knew about M67 fragmentary grenades, which are hand grenades used by the U.S. military in close combat. Smith told the CHS that he wanted three hand grenades to outfit his tactical vest and discussed a plan to purchase the grenades. On December 5, 2022, Smith provided the CHS with a $200 down payment for three hand grenades, priced at $250 per hand grenade.

According to court documents, on December 14, 2022, under supervision of law enforcement, a meeting between Smith and the second CHS was arranged. At the meeting, Smith took possession of three auto sears and three inert hand grenades in exchange for $690 in cash. Smith was then placed under arrest by law enforcement.

Smith pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court before Senior Judge David S. Doty to one count of possession of a machine gun. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI and the Savage Police Department.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Manda Sertich and Andrew Winter, and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Justin Sher.

Updated May 16, 2023

Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses