Two Missouri men are in custody and facing federal charges after traveling from their home state to the Kenosha, Wisconsin area with firearms, ammunition, and body armor. 40-year old Michael Karmo and his roommate, 33-year old Cody Smith, told FBI agents that they were heading to Kenosha to “see for themselves” what was happening in the Wisconsin city that’s been beset by riots and unrest since the shooting of Jacob Blake by local police more than a week ago.
At the moment, the pair are facing federal charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Both men are prohibited by law from possessing firearms; Karmo because of his prior felony convictions, and Smith because of a previous misdemeanor domestic violence conviction.
A federal complaint says the men are roommates in Hartville. It says a person who had been in contact with the men told law enforcement officers the men said they were going to Kenosha to loot and possibly “pick people off.”
The complaint says Smith told federal gents the men attended a rally for President Trump in Kenosha on September 1, and wanted to see proof of the rioting. And the document says Karmo told investigators the men were part of the 417 Second Amendment Militia, and decided to drive to Kenosha to “see for themselves” what was going on. It says Karmo stopped in Iowa to visit someone he knew, and he was offended that person commented that Karmo and Smith looked like they were going to Kenosha to shoot people.
ABC News has more information about the pair, including some apparent (and rather unexpected) support for law enforcement.
Text messages between Karmo and the tipster allegedly included a photograph of Karmo holding a rifle with a drum-style magazine in it along with the message, “This is the game changer,” the complaint said.
After receiving the tip, law enforcement looked at a Facebook page with the username “Michael Karmo” and found photos of someone who appeared to be Karmo posing with firearms, including assault-style rifles, according to the complaint. The complaint also included photos from Karmo’s alleged account, including one that appears to be Karmo posing with a gun in front of a Blue Lives Matter flag.
2020 is weird enough that the idea of two prohibited persons backing the blue isn’t the craziest thing I’ve heard, but it’s still a pretty bizarre twist to this story.
The pair also allegedly told police that they’re members of a group called the 417 Second Amendment Militia, which describes itself on Facebook as “a firearms and adventure group, which practices the safe bearing of arms through legal carry and ownership, and the fun practice of tactics. Using adventure, camping, shooting, survival & preparedness skills in a civil community minded way.” The group has about 550 followers on Facebook, but doesn’t appear to be active, with the last post from the organization coming in June of 2019.
I have no idea what the pair’s intentions were, but I do know it was a mistake of epic proportions for Karmo and Smith to take their road trip to Wisconsin while illegally possessing both guns and ammunition. They may have only intended to get a first-hand look at the damage in Kenosha, but now they’re likely to get a much longer look at the inside of a federal prison cell. Both men could be facing ten year sentences for the firearms and ammo found in their possession, and if convicted would have to serve 85% of their sentence before they’re eligible for release.