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Missouri men traveled to Kenosha with guns, attended Trump rally and wanted to ‘see what was going on with the riots,’ charges say

Guns were found in their car and hotel. Both men were prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition due to prior convictions
Credit: Photo in criminal complaint

PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wis. — Two men from Missouri have been charged with illegal possession of firearms after being arrested on Sept. 1 at a hotel in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Pleasant Prairie is located near Kenosha.

According to the criminal complaint, the Kenosha Police Department advised FBI that a law enforcement agency in Iowa had received a tip that 40-year-old Michael M. Karmo and 33-year-old Cody E. Smith were in possession of firearms and traveling from Missouri to Kenosha, Wisconsin to loot and possibly “pick people off.”

The FBI also received photos of text messages between Karmo and one of the tipsters which showed a photo of himself holding a rifle and another white man holding what appeared to be a shotgun, according to the probable cause statement. Karmo also sent another picture of a rifle with a drum-style magazine in it with, “this is the game changer.”

Credit: Photo in criminal complaint

The Department of Justice said FBI agents found and detained Karmo at a hotel. FBI agents recovered an Armory AR-15 assault rifle, a Mossberg 500 AB 12-Gauge shotgun, two handguns, a silencer, ammunition, body armor, a drone, and other materials from their hotel room and car. 

During an interview with Smith, he told FBI agents he and Karmo traveled from Missouri to Kenosha for the President Trump rally on Sept. 1. Smith said they went to the rally outside of the high school in Kenosha. He said they wanted to see proof of the rioting. He reported both pistols were locked in the glove compartment of Karmo’s car while they were at the rally and said they brought the guns because they did not want to leave them unattended in the room. After their visit to Wisconsin, they planned to go to Detroit, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

FBI agents interviewed Karmo who said he and Smith have been roommates in Hartville, Missouri, for about four weeks. They worked together and are part of the ‘417 Second Amendment Militia'. He said they decided to drive to Kenosha to “see what was going on regarding the riots.” He said after they attended the Trump rally, they planned to see what Kenosha was like at night. Karmo also said they planned to go to Portland, Oregon. He also said he would be willing to “take action” if police were defunded.

The Department of Justice said Karmo has prior felony convictions and Smith has a prior misdemeanor domestic battery conviction and acknowledged regular drug use. Both men were prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.

Karmo is charged with felon in possession of a firearm and Smith is charged with aiding and abetting a felon’s possession of firearms and possession of firearms and ammunition by a prohibited person.

Each of these offenses carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervision after release from prison.