An armed man claiming to be a federal agent entered the Edgar County Jail Feb. 17 requesting assistance in making arrests.It ended with his arrest, but the situation was fraught with potential danger …
An armed man claiming to be a federal agent entered the Edgar County Jail Feb. 17 requesting assistance in making arrests.
It ended with his arrest, but the situation was fraught with potential danger for the community.
Justin Hefner had a list of people he intended to arrest, live or dead according to his Facebook page. An AR-15 rifle was found in his vehicle. Deputies Dee Burgin and Matt Smith described the weapon as modified like those used in the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead and many more wounded.
The addition of a bump stock makes the semi-automatic rifle fire in a mode that is almost fully automatic. A semi-automatic weapon fires a single shot with each pull of the trigger so the rate of fire depends on how fast the shooter can pull the trigger.
Smith explained with a bump stock the shooter never lets off the trigger. The recoil of the rifle activates a spring in the stock pushing the weapon back forward to fire a new round in the chamber. It all happens so quickly the rate of fire can sound like an automatic weapon, although technically a bump stock equipped rifle is still classified as semi-automatic.
Hefner had also modified the weapon with a small lever in front of the trigger to drop empty magazines much faster than the release apparatus on the side of the rifle. Such a maneuver enhances the speed of reloading.
When the rifle was removed from Hefner’s vehicle it also had a fully loaded, 100-round magazine attached. Additional fully loaded magazines of less capacity were also in close proximity to the weapon.
He was wearing military-style steel-plated body armor. He also had a bulletproof vest on underneath the armor. Burgin said the rifles deputies use are incapable of penetrating the steel plating Hefner wore to protect his chest.
Timing played a large part in keeping this situation from turning deadly since he came to town on a Saturday
Hefner frequently targeted the Edgar County Board in his Facebook rants. Burgin said if Hefner entered the courthouse during an Edgar County Board meeting equipped with the rifle as found and wearing the protective armor, he could have killed many people before law enforcement stopped him.
“Our bullets wouldn’t go through the steel,” said Burgin. “We would have had to hit him with a headshot or somewhere below the vest.”