911 Call Leads to Indictment on Explosive and Gun Charges
OKLAHOMA CITY – PHILIP JAMES HEATH, 51, of Lawton, has been charged in a two-count indictment with being a felon in possession of both explosives and firearms, announced First Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.
On February 4, 2019, Heath was charged by complaint with possession of firearms after a felony conviction. According to an affidavit executed by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, on the morning of January 30, 2019, officers of the Lawton Police Department responded to a 911 call regarding a domestic disturbance at an apartment. The woman who made the call allegedly told the dispatcher Heath had pointed a gun at her and threatened her. The complaint explains that after the responding officers detained Heath, they saw the buttstock of a rifle in plain view, sticking out from between a mattress and box springs. They are alleged ultimately to have discovered three pistols and two rifles. Because of items discovered in the apartment, numerous FBI personnel responded immediately to assess and mitigate any threat and to ensure public safety.
After several weeks in Comanche County custody on state charges, Heath was transferred to federal custody in early March. On March 11, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Purcell ordered him held in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial.
Today a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment that alleges not only illegal possession of firearms, but also illegal possession of explosives, which under the relevant criminal statute includes detonating cord. The indictment seeks forfeiture of five firearms, 1,404 rounds of various kinds of ammunition, and two lengths of detonating cord.
If found guilty of either count, Heath faces a potential penalty of ten years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.
This case is a result of an investigation by the Lawton Police Department, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the FBI. Prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon Hale and Travis D. Smith, the case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses on the most violent offenders and partners with local prevention and re-entry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
The public is reminded that these charges are merely allegations and that Heath is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Reference is made to public filings for more information.