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Pierce County man indicted after guns, explosives found in trunk at auto glass repair shop

FIFE, Wash. — A Pierce County man is being indicted after he was found with nearly a half-dozen guns and tons of ammo in the trunk of his car.

The United States Attorney’s Office released photos of all the guns, ammunition, and explosives found in 39-year-old Brady Eltz’s black Mazda 3 back in early October.  Fife Police and the Pierce County Bomb Squad responded to an auto glass repair shop off 20th Street Southeast after a worker reported the weapons.

“If those explosives had gone off in the car, there could have been scrap metal from the actual car itself that could’ve injured people or even killed people,” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesperson Jason Chudy said.

Charging documents from the Pierce County Prosecutors Office early on in the investigation state that when Eltz arrived for his appointment on Oct. 4, he asked employees of the shop if they had to open his trunk to fix his window. When they told him yes, he asked if he could watch the repair to his back window. And after they told him he couldn’t for liability reasons, he opened the trunk in front of them and that’s when the documents say employees saw the weapons and explosives.

Eltz told the employee he had “Illegal **** in his trunk,” and then tried to cover up the weapons before stashing two more guns in the shop’s bathroom.

“Most people don’t need these things. These are not meant for self-protection and they are not meant for hunting. They are a danger to the community,” Chudy said.

And one of the guns stashed under the bathroom sink was equipped with an “auto-sear,” which converts a gun into an automatic weapon.

“They are illegal to have. There is no reason anybody should have a Glock switch or a fully automatic weapon unless they are licensed to do so,” Chudy said.

And agencies like the ATF tell KIRO 7 that not only are they seeing an increase in the numbers of illegally modified guns, but they aren’t hard to find.

“Well, unfortunately, they are very easy to get from overseas,” Chudy said.

While this was a scary situation for this shop, Chudy says the workers did the right thing by reporting guns quickly because it’s best to play it safe at all times.

“But if there is something that looks strange…particularly a bunch of firearms in the trunk like that, that does bring up some red flags,” Chudy said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Eltz can’t own a gun because of his criminal conviction back in 2013. If convicted, Eltz could face 15 years in prison.

Here is a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

“A Pierce County, Washington man with a prior federal conviction for illegal gun possession, was indicted this week for unlawfully possessing firearms – included two weapons that had been modified to be machine guns, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Brady Lee Eltz, 39, made his initial appearance on a criminal complaint last week, and was ordered detained.

“According to records filed in the case, on October 4, 2023, Fife Police were dispatched to an auto-glass repair shop where workers at the shop reported seeing firearms in the trunk of a vehicle Eltz brought in for repair. Workers also reported seeing bullet holes in the vehicle.

“After law enforcement took Eltz info custody, they checked the bathroom at the business. Eltz had gone into the bathroom when he saw police arrive. In the cabinet below the sink police found two firearms – 9 mm handguns. One, a Glock, had an illegal switch known as an “auto-sear” installed. The switch allows the gun to be fired automatically, making it a machine gun. The Glock had been reported stolen.

“Fife Police towed Eltz’s vehicle and applied for a warrant to search it. During the search of the vehicle’s trunk, they found three additional firearms – including a stolen rifle that had been modified to fire automatically, making it a machine gun. Police then discovered a bag with two improvised explosive devices. Pierce County Sheriff’s Office bomb technicians were called in to evaluate the devices and make them safe. One was an explosive simulator likely stolen from the U.S. Army. It can cause serious bodily injury if exploded in a confined space. The second explosive was a thick cardboard tube filled with a black powder that appeared to be flammable.

“After the explosives were made safe, police continued their search of the trunk and found two additional rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, latex face masks, body armor, gun sites, holsters, and other firearms accessories. Eltz also had GPS trackers, several knives, and a voice-changing device.

“Eltz is prohibited from possessing any firearms because of criminal convictions including a 2013 conviction in the Western District of Washington. Eltz was sentenced to five years in prison for that crime.

“Illegal possession of a firearm is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Possession of a machine gun is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (ATF) with assistance from the Fife Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. The Washington State Patrol assisted with locating and arresting Eltz on a federal warrant after he posted bail and left state custody.”

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