Newport man charged with shooting undercover officer with illegally obtained handgun

RICHLAND, Wash. — A man is charged with illegally obtaining a firearm, and using said firearm to shoot an undercover officer.

47-year-old Kenneth Rankin Gazzaway II of Newport, Washington attempted to rob an undercover ATF Special Agent at gunpoint. He and the agent were both shot during the attempted robbery, and FBI agents recovered Gazzaway’s Glock Model 17 9mm pistol.

Gazzaway purchased the Glock Model 17, along with several other firearms in August 2021. He allegedly purchased eleven other handguns in two bulk purchases, where at least three of those firearms were recovered in criminal investigations less than 100 days after he purchased them.

The basis of Gazzaway’s federal charges is that he knowingly failed to state that he was a user of methamphetamine when he purchased the firearms. He was charged with making false statements connected to purchasing the firearms and obtaining a federal firearms license. He is also charged with possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

“Part of making Eastern Washington a safe and strong community is ensuring that guns are only in the hands of people who should have them,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref. “There is a reason that firearm purchase forms require potential buyers to state whether they abuse illegal narcotics.”

Gazzaway is currently detained pending trial. If he is convicted on all charges, he faces potential sentencing exposure of 45 years in federal custody.

“Mr. Gazzaway is alleged to have made false statements when purchasing firearms, including firearms that are alleged to have been used shortly thereafter in connection with the commission of crimes – including the shooting of one of our agents,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “This case demonstrates the dangers of illegal narcotic users purchasing and possessing firearms. We will vigorously investigate anyone who illegally purchases or possesses firearms, particularly when those firearms fall into the hands of those who commit other crimes.”

This case is being investigated by ATF, and prosecuted by Caitlin A. Baunsgard, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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