MONROE, Wash. KOMO NEWS -- Special federal agents are investigating a local gun range suspected of serving as a militia training camp, according to court documents.
Owner Jim Faire says he can't afford to run a background check on every visitor because his outdoor gun range is a nonprofit business. As a result, he said, county officials and the FBI have begun cracking down on the range after a convicted felon was caught with guns and drugs there.
With thousands of shells littered across the ground, the gun range is now closed. Neighbors are glad to have the quiet, but they never suspected anything criminal was going on.
"There is no threat. And I am not worried about terrorism or any type of radical thing," said neighbor Arne Viklund.
Faire said the county shut down the gun range, citing violation of commercial zoning laws. But he believes the county clamped down because of one man -- Andrew Gray, a convicted felon who faces federal weapons and drug charges.
According to court documents, agents say Gray has a history with anti-government groups. An undercover informant told the FBI Gray had been firing rifle sat the gun range, prompting agents to search his storage unit.
Inside they found 21 pistols and rifles, including a military-style machine gun. Also in the unit were two bulletproof vests and unregistered silencers. A search of Gray's house turned up more than 300 marijuana plants growing in the detached garage.
Gray's attorney refused to comment on the case.
Faire would not say just how long he's known Gray, but now he knows the FBI is watching him, too.
Court documents said anti-terrorism agents keep an eye on the gun range because the informant says it's known as a militia training center.
But Faire claims the word "militia" is just a part of an inside joke. He says his group is a local chapter of Project Appleseed, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching marksmanship and preserving gun rights.
And neighbors who've known Faire for more than 40 years say that sounds about right. They don't believe he's involved in any radical or anti-government movements.
Gray's attorney says her client stopped meeting with anti-government groups a few months ago. Gray has been freed on bail. He is due in court on Thursday.
Tags: FBI, investigates, alleged, militia, training, camp, gun range, convicted, felon, 300 marijuana plants
Location: Monroe, Washington, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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