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Dayton shooter's friend bought body armor, gun accessories used in deadly attack, prosecutors say

Ethan Kollie is alleged to have purchased items that Connor Betts used in the mass shooting last week that left nine people dead.

A longtime friend of Dayton shooter Connor Betts allegedly bought the body armor, 100-round magazine and a firearm accessory used in the deadly attack that killed nine people, officials said Monday.

Ethan Kollie, 24, of the Dayton suburb of Kettering, was charged with two offenses, not connected to the Aug. 4 massacre — falsely denying that he was a drug user when buying a handgun for himself in May, and then possession of a firearm while unlawfully using drugs.

But Kollie's weapons played no role in the mass shooting, investigators said. And authorities also emphasized that Kollie appeared to play no part in the planning of Betts' mass shooting in the early morning of Aug. 4.

"To be clear, there is no evidence and allegation in this criminal complaint that Kollie intentionally participated in the planning of Betts' Aug. 4 shooting," U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio said. "I don't want that to be misconstrued."

Court documents said Kollie bought the equipment and kept them in his apartment "to assist Betts in hiding them from Betts' parents."

In addition to the body armor and magazine, Kollie also purchased for Betts an "upper receiver of the AR-15 weapon," according to a criminal complaint. An upper receiver creates a pathway for the cartridge to move efficiently from the magazine to the weapon's barrel.

"I can say that the purchases that are at issue here were some of the equipment that was used on Aug. 4," Glassman said.

Todd Wickerham, the FBI’s special agent in charge of its Cincinnati office, said he doesn’t know what Kollie believed Betts was going to do with all his high-powered firearm accessories.

"I can’t speak to exactly what he thought he was going to use the firearm for," Wickerham said. “But we have not found any indication that he knew (Betts) was going to conduct this attack."

Although not a crime, Kollie was in his apartment when he witnessed and assisted Betts assemble the AR-15 used to kill nine people, according to a criminal complaint.

"Kollie indicated that approximately 10 weeks ago while in Kollie's apartment, Kollie watched and helped Betts assemble the AR-15 weapon used by Betts in the August 4. 2019 shooting in Dayton," the complaint said.

"Kollie indicated that upon arrival of the drum magazine approximately 6 to 8 weeks ago, Betts retrieved the assembled weapon, including the drum magazine, and took possession of it and the body armor at that time."

Responding Dayton police killed Betts, 24, just outside the doors of Ned Peppers Bar, where the killer could have shot dozens more people inside, authorities have said.

Betts' victims include his 22-year-old sister Megan Betts. The others were Lois Oglesby, 27; Saeed Saleh, 38; Derrick Fudge, 57; Logan Turner, 30; Nicholas Cumer, 25; Thomas McNichols, 25; Beatrice Warren-Curtis, 36; and Monica Brickhouse, 39.

Betts' motive was not immediately clear to police.

Kollie faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

The defendant told FBI agents that he did "'hard drugs' with Betts, as well as marijuana and acid, four or five times a week from 2014 to 2015," Glassman said.

Kollie said he smokes marijuana daily, had done so for 10 years, the federal prosecutor added.

CORRECTION (Aug. 12, 2019, 4:55 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the charges against Ethan Kollie. He was charged with falsely denying he was a marijuana user and possessing a gun while using illegal drugs, not with buying body armor and firearm accessories for Connor Betts.