A grandmother who heard what her grandson was planning and refused to let events take their course helped avert what could have been a July mass shooting in Texas, according to federal officials.
On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas revealed that a 19-year-old Lubbock, Texas, man had been arrested in connection with what officials believed was a planned mass shooting.
Police charged William Patrick Williams, 19, with making false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. But Cox said there was much more to the story.
Cox said Williams was not on any watch list, and officials would have never know what he was planning if not for the tip from his grandmother, whose name was not released.
“[W]e wouldn’t have known he was contemplating this. She saved his life, injury to him and probably to multiple people’s lives,” he said.
— NBC DFW (@NBCDFW) August 5, 2019
The criminal complaint against Williams said that his grandmother could hear him manipulating a gun when Williams called her.
He told her that he had recently purchased an AK-47 rifle and planned to “shoot up” a hotel and then commit suicide by cop, the complaint read.
She convinced Williams to let her drive him to a local hospital, where he was committed. While there, Williams gave police permission to search the hotel room where he had been staying.
The complaint said police found “an AK-47 rifle, 17 magazines loaded with 7.62 ammunition, a black trench coat, multiple knives, black tactical pants, a black T-shirt that read ‘Let ‘Em Come’ and black tactical gloves with the fingers cut off.”
Williams had laid out the weapons on the bed for police to find, the complaint said.
While Williams was hospitalized, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reviewed the paperwork Williams filed when buying the AK-47, and noticed he used an address at which he no longer lived. Once Williams left the hospital, he was arrested on the charge of misrepresenting his address to a federally approved firearms dealer.
“This was a tragedy averted,” Cox said.
“I want to praise the defendant’s grandmother, who saved lives by interrupting this plot, as well as the Lubbock police officers and federal agents who investigated his unlawful acquisition of a deadly weapon,” Cox said.
“If you suspect a friend or loved one is planning violence against themselves or others, do not hesitate to seek help immediately by calling law enforcement,” he said.
“The safety of our citizens is paramount,” Lubbock interim Police Chief Jerry Brewer said.
“When events like this occur we greatly appreciate the cooperative relationships with our federal law enforcement partners that enhance our abilities to protect the community.”
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