Steven Boehle wanted to celebrate his 50th birthday last week with a mass shooting and had obtained 13 firearms and more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition to carry out the plan, a federal agent testified Thursday.
Boehle, of Austin, called his April 13 birthday “Holy Day,” according to a confidential source who tipped off authorities to the scheme and described the defendant as someone who “exhibits sovereign citizen extremism ideology.” The source also revealed Boehle requested that the source videotape the attack, FBI agent Bryant Berthold testified in U.S. District Court.
After seizing three handguns and 1,100 rounds of ammunition from a North Austin apartment where Boehle had been living with his girlfriend, Berthold said officials discovered 10 more guns — all rifles — in a South Austin storage unit rented to Boehle. Investigators also learned through an interview with Boehle’s girlfriend that he was outraged over politicians and rapists and had become “increasingly involved in violent fantasy,” Berthold added.
The search warrant at the home on St. Johns Avenue was triggered by information that Boehle was selling marijuana, Berthold said, adding authorities twice previously sent a confidential informant to purchase pot from the home. They discovered 6.3 grams of marijuana in a search of the home.
When Boehle was arrested on April 12 — the day before the planned attack — Berthold said they found an expletive-laced note taped to the front door that read, “The great miracle will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Holy Thursday.” It went on to say, “Die mother (expletive).” There was no testimony about where Boehle planned to carry out the attack.
Boehle is being held in Burnet County Jail on charges of making a false statement in connection with the attempted acquisition of a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Those charges stem from a 1993 misdemeanor conviction in Connecticut for domestic violence in which Boehle slapped, choked and bit his girlfriend.
Three times he has attempted to purchase a firearm in the Austin area, but was always denied because of the conviction, according to an FBI agent’s report. Berthold testified that Boehle told authorities he was unaware a misdemeanor conviction would stand in the way of a firearms purchase.
Boehle hasn’t been charged in connection to the accusation that he planned a mass shooting. He is being held without bail. Prosecutors requested a continuance for May 1 so they could have adequate time to review records related to the 1993 conviction and present an argument for why Boehle cannot lawfully buy a gun.
Boehle, who goes by the nickname Duke, said little at the hearing, but expressed himself through nonverbal actions. At one point he stared down prosecutor Gregg Sofer for about 10 seconds. Boehle took notes on a legal pad and routinely consulted with his attorney, David Peterson. When standing to switch chairs at his table, Boehle swung the notepad and nearly hit Sofer in the head. Boehle suffers from epilepsy, Peterson told the court, and lapsed into a seizure when he was arrested and taken to the hospital.
Boehle’s only audible words was an apology to U.S. Judge Mark Lane for his animated responses during his initial court appearance after the arrest.
“Sorry for my conduct,” he said.
“That’s OK,” Lane responded. “You were just upset.”