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Loner gunman who attacked FBI office was Navy vet who drove fast and was devoted to Donald Trump

"I have a lead foot," Ricky Walter Shiffer said after racking up one of several speeding tickets.

The pro-Trump gunman who was shot dead by Ohio police Thursday after he attacked the FBI’s Cincinnati field office with a nail gun was a Navy veteran with top-secret clearance who served on submarines and apparently had a need for speed, records and sources revealed Friday.

“I have a lead foot,” Ricky Walter Shiffer told a Minnesota police officer after he was caught going 50 mph in a 30 mph zone in his red Ford Mustang, according to a speeding ticket obtained by NBC News in collaboration with The Fargo Forum newspaper.

That was in February 2004 and Shiffer was living in St. Cloud, Minnesota, according to the ticket — one of several he accumulated before and after he was discharged from the Navy in 2003.

In recent months, Shiffer had been living in Omaha, Nebraska, and was on the FBI's radar after they learned he had been at the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

FBI Evidence Response Team gather evidence at the FBI building in Cincinnati on Thursday.
FBI Evidence Response Team gather evidence at the FBI building in Cincinnati on Thursday.WLWT

“The FBI previously received information about Ricky Shiffer, the individual who attempted to breach the Visitor Screening Facility at the FBI Cincinnati Field Office on August 11, 2022," the FBI said in a statement released Friday. "The information did not contain a specific and credible threat. However, multiple field offices made attempts to locate and interview Shiffer which were unsuccessful.”

Shiffer, who was 42 when he died Thursday after a standoff with pursuing police officers, enlisted in the Navy in June 1998 and underwent 10 months of training before being assigned to the USS Columbia. His assignment was overseeing electronic equipment associated with weapons such as missiles and torpedoes.

“Shiffer had to be eligible for top-secret clearance in his job as an E-5,” a Navy spokesperson told NBC News.

Upon leaving the Navy after five years of service, Shiffer moved from state to state, records show.

Along the way, Shiffer managed to rack up speeding tickets in Ohio, Hawaii and Florida as well as other traffic offenses in Virginia, records show.

But Shiffer’s most serious run-in with the law prior to Thursday came in July 2003, when he was arrested by the Moorhead, Minnesota police and charged with “obstructing legal process,” a misdemeanor to which he pleaded guilty a month later, records show. 

It was not immediately clear what happened in that case because that police record has been purged and the Moorhead Police chief did not respond to an email from NBC News seeking access to the arrest information.

From 2017 to 2020, records show that Shiffer lived in an apartment building near downtown Columbus, Ohio. A former neighbor described him as friendly but also “a bit off.”

“He had a little bit of an anger issue about his car, but who doesn’t,” Ian McConnell told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

A Pennsylvania native, Shiffer registered as a Republican wherever he lived, records show. He did not appear to be married or have children. But he was a devoted follower of former President Donald Trump.

NBC News reported on Thursday that Shiffer was at the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, although it was not clear whether he was part of the mob that breached the building. He did, however, post often on social media about how he was in Washington, D.C. that day.

And on Thursday, after he tried and failed to get inside the FBI building in Cincinnati, Shiffer apparently confessed to the crime on Truth Social, the social media platform founded by Trump’s media company.

“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t,” the account @RickyWShifferJr wrote at 9:29 a.m. ET, shortly after police allege the shooting occurred. “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while.”

Shiffer was apparently incensed after the FBI confiscated more than a dozen boxes of classified documents from Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this week.

“We must not tolerate this one,” he wrote.