Timothy John Watson of Ransom, West Virginia, was arrested by federal agents this week for selling full-auto AR-15 sears disguised as “portable wall hangers” from a website dubbed portablewallhanger.com (still up as of 11/5 @ 2:07PM).
The product is ostensibly designed to hang keys, lanyards, and other small objects in a place where they can be easily accessed because, according to the site, “searching for your keys really sucks!”
They even provide a helpful assembly video.
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But the FBI accuses Watson of using the product as a thinly veiled cover for manufacturing and selling 3D-printed plastic sears that allow semi-automatic AR-15s to be converted into fully automatic machine guns. (The plastic “hanger” is the sear, which can be easily removed from the wall mount and installed into the firearm.)
The FBI says Watson does not have the federal licenses necessary to manufacture or sell such a product, and he’s facing felony charges of conspiracy, illegal possession and transfer of a machine gun and unlawfully engaging in the business of manufacturing firearms.
He was operating his business between January and October of this year, and the FBI says he sold about 600 of the products.
According to a criminal complaint filed by FBI Special Agent Mark McNeal, the 30-year-old Watson came to the FBI’s attention after one of Watson’s customers, Steven Carrillo, was accused of shooting security officers at a federal building in Oakland in May and members of the Santa Cruz (Calif.) County Sheriff’s Office in June. A security officer died in the former incident, and a sheriff’s deputy died in the latter.
While it’s unclear whether Carrillo had installed one of Watson’s sears in the AR-15 he used in the two shootings, McNeal uses the connection to tie Watson to the infamous “Boogaloo Boys.”
McNeal notes that Watson hosted a fundraiser for Duncan Lemp, who has become a kind of martyr for the anti-government movement after he was shot and killed by police during a no-knock raid in March. A “cooperating defendant,” who the FBI nabbed trying to sell one of Watson’s sears to an undercover agent, also said he heard about Portable Wall Hangers in online Boogaloo forums.
The company’s Instagram page has been taken down, but McNeal and the FBI recorded several examples of the ways Watson and his customers tried to speak about the sears using “coded” language.
“First off I’m not a fed or LEO. I know.. exactly what one would say. But I just got your wall hanger in the mail, but I can ‘t quite figure out how to ‘hang it on my wall’ so I can ‘grab my keys a lot quicker. ‘Do you have any resources to show a customer how its [sic] used?” one customer asked via email.
One Instagram user commented that the hangers “only work in armalite Walls” and another said, “I don’t mind seeing redcoats lying on the floor, but prefer to leave em properly hanging #twitchygurglythings.”
This is the ideal wall hanger. You may not like it but this is what peak performance looks like. pic.twitter.com/vtriZJQ9t6— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) November 4, 2020
Watson was being held in Eastern Regional Jail Tuesday night after an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Robert W. Trumble, according to local media.