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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Convicted Felon for Having a Destructive Device and Multiple Firearms inside his Austin Apartment

In Austin today, a federal grand jury indicted 38–year-old Erich Michael Wittwer for having a homemade destructive device in his apartment, announced U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.

The indictment charges Wittwer with one count of unlawful possession of a destructive device and one count of being a prohibited person, namely a convicted felon, in possession of a firearm.

According to court records, FBI agents executed a search warrant on the defendant’s residence on November 5, 2020.  There, they discovered the destructive device and a total of seven firearms including five pistols, one 12 gauge shotgun and one .308 caliber semi-automatic assault rifle.  Wittwer’s criminal history reveals prior felony convictions including two in 2009 for Assault Family Violence in Travis County, Texas.

Each charge calls for up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction.  Wittwer remains in federal custody. 

The FBI is investigating this case with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Cherry is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated November 17, 2020