Douglas Haig, 57, was not accused of a direct role in the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting that killed 58 and injured more than 850 at an open-air music festival. Prosecutors never suggested that he had advance knowledge of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Haig acknowledged before U.S. District Judge James Mahan that he had no license to disassemble, remanufacture and reload bullets at his home workshop in Mesa, Ariz. According to investigators, Haig operated an illegal business called Specialized Military Ammunition from July 2016 to Oct. 2017, selling ammunition both online and at gun shows in several states, including Arizona and Nevada, Mercury News reported.
Douglas Haig leaves the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse, Tuesday Nov. 19, 2019, in Las Vegas, after pleading guilty to illegally manufacturing tracer and armor-piercing bullets found in a high-rise hotel suite where a gunman took aim before the Las Vegas Strip massacre two years ago. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
Law enforcement first began to investigate Haig after discovering unfired .308-caliber (7.62mm) rounds in gunman Stephen Paddock’s hotel room, the Mercury News reported. Haig’s fingerprints, as well as tool marks from his workshop, were found on two of the rounds, and his address was on a box that police found near Paddock’s body, court documents said.
“Doug had no indication whatsoever about Stephen Paddock’s plans,” defense attorney Marc Victor said during a prepared statement outside U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
Haig acknowledged publicly in 2018 that he sold 720 rounds of tracer ammunition to Paddock in the weeks before the massacre after the two met at a gun show. Tracers illuminate the path of fired bullets, allowing shooters a more precise hit.
Haig closed the business permanently following an FBI raid less than three weeks after the shooting, according to his defense attorney. His plea agreement allowed him to avoid a trial that had been scheduled to begin next month. Haig could have faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His deal could get him about two years at sentencing Feb. 19. Victor said he’ll seek probation.
The Las Vegas police department’s initial assessment of the shooting reported that 58 people were killed and 869 people were injured, including 413 who were wounded by bullets or shrapnel, the New York Times reported.
Haig’s plea comes after a southern California woman, who was left paralyzed after she was shot in the back during the shooting, died last week. A coroner’s report has yet to be released. If it’s determined she died as a result of the injuries she suffered during the shooting, the death toll will rise to 59.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.