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Press Release

Pierce County, Washington man sentenced to four years in prison for illegal possession of cache of firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant had stolen guns, explosive devices, machineguns and silencers in bullet riddled car he took to Fife glass shop for repair

Tacoma – A Pierce County, Washington man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to four years in prison for unlawful possession of a machinegun and unlawful possession of firearms related to his October 2023 arrest at a Fife, Washington auto glass business, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Brady Lee Eltz, 39, has been in custody since his federal arrest on October 31, 2023. At the sentencing hearing Chief U.S. District Judge David G. Estudillo said, “This conduct is not only serious but alarming to read about and see. You possessed very dangerous weapons. It’s unclear what your motivation was.” 

According to records filed in the case, on October 4, 2023, Fife Police were dispatched to an auto-glass repair shop where workers at the shop reported seeing firearms in the trunk of a vehicle Eltz brought in for repair. Workers also reported seeing bullet holes in the vehicle.

After law enforcement took Eltz into custody, they checked the bathroom at the business because Eltz had gone into the bathroom when he saw police arrive.

guns hidden in bathroom

In the cabinet below the sink police found two firearms – 9 mm handguns. One, a Glock, had an illegal switch known as an “auto-sear” installed. The switch allows the gun to be fired automatically, making it a machinegun. The Glock had been reported stolen. Both the Glock and the other handgun had rounds chambered.

Fife Police towed Eltz’s vehicle and applied for a warrant to search it. During the search of the vehicle’s trunk, they found three additional firearms – including a stolen rifle that had been modified to fire automatically, making it a machinegun. Police then discovered a bag with two improvised explosive devices. Pierce County Sheriff’s Office bomb technicians were called in to evaluate the devices and make them safe. One was an explosive simulator likely stolen from the U.S. Army. It can cause serious bodily injury if exploded in a confined space. The second explosive was a thick cardboard tube filled with a black flammable powder.

After the explosives were made safe, police continued their search of the trunk and found two additional rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, latex face masks, body armor, gun sights, holsters, and other firearms accessories. Eltz also had GPS trackers, several knives, and a voice-changing device.

Cache of guns and explosives

As prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo, Eltz has a history of collecting similar armaments, false credentials, and disguises. “In 2007, he had a gun magazine loaded with 30 rounds of hollow point ammunition, a homemade silencer, ballistic helmet, handcuffs, emergency vehicle red light, sword, electronic stun gun, nun-chucks, knives, and a City of Milton “Director of Public Safety” badge. In 2012, Eltz had a stolen rifle with a silencer, three pistols, two other rifles, a US Army backpack with Army gear, a Department of Defense identification card (in another name), multiple rifle and pistol magazines (loaded), a law enforcement duty belt, a WSP “SWAT Sergeant” shirt, night vision goggles, large military-style knives, and more. At the time, he was driving an older style police vehicle that still had emergency lights.”

All the guns, ammunition and auto-sear devices in this case are being forfeited to the government.

Eltz is prohibited from possessing any firearms because of criminal convictions including a 2013 conviction in the Western District of Washington for unlawful possession of firearms. Eltz was sentenced to five years in prison for that crime.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (ATF) with assistance from the Fife Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. The Washington State Patrol assisted with locating and arresting Eltz on a federal warrant after he posted bail and left state custody.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Marci L. Ellsworth. 


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated June 27, 2024

Firearms Offenses