IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa gun store refused to sell a semi-automatic rifle to a heavily armed and agitated Colorado man after he said he was surprised his friends didn’t suspect he was the Boulder mass shooter, according to federal court documents released Friday.
The Nebraska State Patrol initially arrested the self-described firearms enthusiast, Adam Vannoy, 40, on March 14 on Interstate 80 in Lancaster County. Another driver had called police to report he was driving recklessly at about 120 mph.
During a search of his packed truck, troopers seized a handgun from Vannoy’s jacket, a loaded AR-style semi-automatic rifle with an illegal silencer, four other firearms, ammunition, a bulletproof blanket and vest, two brown wigs and an Air Force costume. They also found marijuana.
They jailed the Denver man on weapons and drug charges. He was released after posting $5,000 bond on March 17, even though he threatened to kill a guard, exposed his penis to guards and threw feces from his cell into a common area, according to a federal complaint unsealed Friday.
Six days later, on Tuesday, Vannoy tried to purchase an AR-style rifle from Sportsman’s Warehouse in Ankeny, Iowa, near Des Moines, the complaint said.
The store denied the sale after Vannoy said he was surprised his friends hadn’t called to find out if he was responsible for Monday’s shooting in Boulder in which a 21-year-old man is charged with killing 10 people at a grocery store. Vannoy also said he had 500 rounds of ammunition in his truck.
In addition to denying the sale, the store notified the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about his comments. Agents arrested Vannoy in Iowa this week on a new federal charge stemming from the Nebraska traffic stop, illegal possession of a firearm as an unlawful user of marijuana.
Vannoy made an initial court appearance in Iowa on Friday afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Jackson ordered Vannoy temporarily detained pending further proceedings, including a potential transfer to face the charge in Nebraska. He also ruled that Vannoy qualified financially to be represented by a lawyer at federal taxpayer expense.
Videos posted by Vannoy on Instagram include a receipt showing he purchased nearly $3,000 in merchandise at Brownells, a large firearms and accessories retailer in Grinnell, Iowa, after his release from Nebraska custody. He said in the videos that the best way to show the Nebraska State Patrol that he wasn’t plotting anything nefarious was to rearm himself.
“While we do not disclose customer order details, I can say that Brownells did not sell this person any firearms,” company spokesman Ryan Repp said Friday evening.
Vannoy said his truck was packed with all of his belongings, including the wigs and Air Force costume, since he was abruptly leaving Colorado. Records show he told a Nebraska trooper during the stop that he was leaving Denver because his neighbors didn’t like him, he had a mental breakdown and quit his job. He told the trooper that he would use his time in jail to “think about getting even with people,” a remark the trooper viewed as threatening.
The arrest comes as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds faces increasing pressure to veto a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature that would eliminate the need to obtain permits to purchase handguns from private sellers or carry them in public. People would still have to pass background checks or present permits to purchase weapons at retailers, but critics say the unregulated private sales would allow more unqualified and dangerous people to obtain firearms.