WHITEHALL, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Family and neighbors paint a different picture of the Whitehall man accused of buying military grade weapons and over 100 rounds of armor piercing ammunition.
Shane Smith was arraigned on Monday in federal court on weapons charges. The Justice Department said he bought a Colt M16, a MAC10 machinegun, a silencer, a Beretta handgun, and 120 rounds of green-tip ammunition from an undercover agent.
Investigators first noticed the 18 year old in May 2014 when he allegedly bought fully automatic guns and ammunition through online sources.
Smith’s mother and grandparents did not want to talk on camera, but they said those purchases took place right before he was arrested for painting racially charged graffiti in June 2014. Smith spent six months in Washington County Jail for that crime.
He allegedly continued to buy more weaponry after his January 2015 release. His probation officers found helmets, body armor kits and WWII darts at his home.
But his family claims the items were connected to his love of all things military and not an attempt to cause harm. Neighbors, however, have a different story.
Off camera, neighbors said they knew Smith was a troublemaker, and they always made sure to lock their doors. One man said he came across a Facebook page run by Smith.
“I did some digging on Facebook, and I saw this kid, and I saw his page, and I was blown away,” he said.
The neighbor said Smith wrote on the Facebook page about hating minorities and wanting to kill them.
“It was mostly hateful, vitriolic words against minorities, and he was talking about hurting them and killing them and uniting them,” he said. “It was pretty crazy.”
Federal agents also looked into Smith’s social media presence. One agent went undercover to sell Smith more weapons.
While online, Smith told the agent he was part of a hit group that was planning to execute minorities and asked for an assault rifle, machine gun, silencer, handgun and bullets. His mother said Smith walked nearly three miles from their home to a Budget Inn to allegedly buy weapons from the undercover federal agents.
Once the weapons were in Smith’s possession, he was arrested. Agents then searched Smith’s home. His family said Smith wouldn’t hurt anyone, and they didn’t allow weapons in their home.
Others, however, said they’re glad Smith is off the streets.
“Knowing there is someone that hateful with those is kind of scary,” a neighbor said.
Smith is facing three weapons charges and could face a maximum of ten years in prison for each charge. If found guilty, he would also have to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
Smith’s trial is scheduled to begin on February 1, 2016.