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Kirtland Air Force Base airman is sentenced to prison

Judge's gavel. (Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/U.S. Air Force)

An airman assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base who was accused of keeping a cache of unregistered weapons at his home on base — including an AR-15 propped against a window and photographs showing AR-15 compatible magazines with the names of mass shooters written on them — has been sentenced to prison and discharged from the military.

U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera last week sentenced Charles Brent Justice to 20 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Earlier this year, Justice pleaded guilty to smuggling goods into the United States, unlawful importation of a firearm and possession of a firearm not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

During a court martial proceeding at KAFB last month to determine Justice’s future in the military, he applied for and was granted an administrative discharge. It carries essentially the same punishment as being found guilty during the court martial, and strips Justice of any benefits he may have received for his military service, said Jim Fisher, a spokesman for KAFB. Justice was charged in March 2020 in U.S. District Court with possession of an unregistered weapon (silencer) and unlawful importation of a firearm.

Federal authorities started investigating Justice after Customs and Border Protection agents in New York intercepted a package bound for Justice that contained a silencer, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations determined that Justice had ordered the silencer and at least two other illegal items from Chinese vendors, including a buttstock designed to attach to a Glock pistol, making it a short-barreled rifle, and a Glock compatible auto-sear, which allowed the pistol to function as a machine gun.

A search of Justice’s KAFB home led authorities to 17 firearms that weren’t registered to the armory, two silencers, large amounts of ammunition and bomb-making instructions, according to the criminal complaint.

An Air Force memo filed in federal court stated that during that search, agents found two handguns near the front door on a shelf within reaching distance of Justice’s 10-month-old son, and an AR-15 rifle in the master bedroom propped against a window overlooking an elementary school.

They also found photos on Justice’s cellphone with the names of mass shooters written in white ink on AR-15 compatible magazines. Included among the shooters were Alexandre Bissonette, who shot and killed several people at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada, and Luca Traini, who targeted African migrants in Italy. There were also photographs related to the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand, according to court records.

Air Force investigators also raised concerns in court documents about Justice’s book collection, which included copies of “Our Enemies in Blue” and “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” which are books that are critical of excessive force by police and certain police policies.

Robert Gorence, one of Justice’s attorneys, declined to comment on Tuesday.


(c) 2021 the Albuquerque Journal 

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.