Lubbock man admits to illegal gun sale in connection with Midland-Odessa shooting

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A man from Lubbock has admitted to violating federal law by selling a gun that federal investigators say was used in a mass shooting on August 31st, 2019 in the Midland-Odessa area

Prosecutors say Seth Ator used an AR-15-style rifle to kill 7 people and wound 25 others before he was killed in a confrontation with police.

Investigators determined that Ator had purchased the weapon from 45-year-old Marcus Anthony Braziel of Lubbock, who regularly sold weapons without a license and without conducting federal background checks.

"Mr. Braziel admits that from 2014 to 2018 he was engaged in the business of dealing firearms without a license," said Erin Nealy Cox, US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, "and he acknowledges that he sold one of those firearms to a prohibited person who then used that firearm to murder 7 Texans and wound 25 more in the shooting spree on Labor Day Weekend."

Ator had previously attempted to purchase a firearm from another dealer but failed the background check due to a previous court ruling that he was "mentally defective".

Prosecutors say he purchased a weapon from Braziel in 2106 but that Braziel failed to run Ator's name through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

"It's not about Mr. Braziel knowing that he sold the gun to a prohibited person, it's the fact that he has no way of knowing who he was selling to...because he failed to do the background check," said Nealy Cox.

Prosecutors say that was not the only transaction Braziel conducted in violation of federal law. They identified several other sales where he failed to conduct background checks. "He made substantial income off these transactions," said Nealy Cox. "He also admitted that his tax returns omitted this income."

Braziel entered a plea of "guilty" to charges of dealing firearms without a license and falsifying a tax return. He will be sentenced in January of 2021 and could receive up to five years in prison.