Micah Xavier Johnson, the man who shot and killed five Dallas police officers on July 7 during a Black Lives Matter rally, reportedly arranged the purchase of an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle on Facebook in 2014, and completed the transaction at a supermarket parking lot.
The purchase, reported in the New York Daily News, shows just how easy it is to get a gun in some parts of the United States. In Texas, if you do not have a gun-dealer’s license you are not required by law to conduct a background check on the buyer. You can be charged with a misdemeanor if you knew the gun would be used unlawfully, if the buyer was a minor, a felon, or intoxicated.
The gun’s seller, Colton Crews, told the newspaper that he did an online check on Johnson, and was satisfied with what he found then and in their 15-minute encounter in person. “He didn’t stand out as a nut job. He didn’t stand out as a crazy person at all,” he told the Daily News. “He stood out as just another guy. And he was US service, so he was like your first pick when you’re selling a gun to somebody.”
According to The Daily Beast, Johnson sought to join a militant black power group, but was rejected and blacklisted after a background check showed that he was discharged from the army in 2014 after being accused of sexual harassment.
Crews said he felt terrible about what happened, and partly responsible, but it’s important to note that the gun is likely not the one Johnson used to shoot the officers in Dallas. (Sources differ on this, but it appears to have been either an Izhmash-Saiga 5.45mm, or an SKS, both similar rifles to the AK-47.)
Facebook instituted a ban on gun sales earlier this year. But the weapons marketplace continues to flourish on the social network, with sellers using not-so-subtle tricks to hide their merchandise.
An earlier version of this story suggested in the headline that Johnson bought the gun on Facebook. The headline has been changed to clarify that he arranged the purchase on Facebook.