The ATF’s investigation of a Pensacola, Fla., weapons connection to Vernon Howell probably won’t produce arrests any time soon.
Jackc Killorin, a spokesman in the Washington office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the ATF plans no arrests “in the near future.” He would not comment when asked when arrests might come.
At issues is the possible transfer of “hundreds” of weapons to Howell’s Mount Carmel complex east of Waco. Hank Neal, senior officer in charge of the ATF office in Pensacola, has confirmed the investigation there, but he refused to comment further.
A former Waco area gun dealer who moved to Pensacola in January was a frequent visitor at Howell’s Mount Carmel compound, according to a former member of the Branch Davidians. Howell spent about six months trying to recruit the gun dealer for the cult.
The ATF inspected the gun dealer in October, but Killorin would not comment when asked if that was connected to the investigation. The gun dealer received his federal firearms license in September 1990.
When ATF agents raided the compound a week ago this morning, they ran into devastating gunfire. An 8-month investigation by the Tribune-Herald indicated that Howell had at his disposal a weapons stockpile that included AR-15 rifles, M-16 automatic rifles and .50-caliber weapons.