CINCINNATI, Ohio – A friend of a gunman who killed nine people in a shooting rampage in Dayton, Ohio, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on Thursday on unrelated federal firearms charges.
Ethan Kollie, now 25, pleaded guilty in November to lying on a federal firearms form and to possessing a gun while using illegal drugs.
Kollie was released from jail under electronic monitoring in December after being held since early August. His attorney, Nick Gounaris, had asked Judge Thomas Rose to let him remain on supervised release, but federal prosecutors said a sentence of 33 to 41 months was called for. Rose sentenced Kollie to 32 months in prison.
Kollie will forever be connected to the Aug. 4 attack, said David DeVillers, the U.S. Attorney overseeing Dayton.
“We will chase down the origins of all weapons used in violence and hold all accountable for their crimes,” DeVillers said in a statement.
Gounaris said the sentence wasn't unexpected and was within the guideline range. Kollie “accepts that and he's going to go serve his sentence,” he said after the sentencing. Gounaris added that Kollie took responsibility early on.
Gounaris said ahead of Thursday's hearing that investigators found no indication Kollie knew of gunman Connor Betts' plans for a mass shooting in Dayton's Oregon entertainment district. But prosecutors said Kollie used poor judgment about his friend “when society needed a responsible, clear-thinking person in the room.”
Gounaris wrote in his sentence request that Kollie admitted to the charges and has cooperated fully and honestly with investigators since they were first led to him. Authorities found a receipt referencing Kollie in Betts' car in the first hours after the early morning Aug. 4 shooting. Police fatally shot Betts about 30 seconds into his attack.
Investigators said Kollie told them he bought body armor, a 100-round magazine and a part for Betts' gun. However, they concluded there was no indication he knew of Betts' plans.
“The United States has a desire to promote the tragic events of August 4, 2019, and to link those events to Mr. Kollie suggesting that he holds some type of responsibility to the Oregon District tragedy,” Gounaris wrote, adding: "it was determined that Mr. Kollie was not responsible or involved in the tragic mass shooting.”
The government response, filed by prosecutor Vipal Patel, said that to say Kollie had actual knowledge of the plans “says too much. ... To say, however, that Kollie bears no connection, says too little.”
The prosecutors wrote that Kollie, an acknowledged regular user of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, carried a loaded handgun “while high as a kite or off in psychedelic land.” They said he ordered items Betts used in his rampage “rather than pause, reflect, question, reach out for help, contact Betts’ parents, sister, or friend, simply say ‘no,’ do something, anything.”
The government memo said Kollie needs drug treatment, which he can get in federal custody.
Chris Hoffman, the FBI special agent in charge of the Cincinnati office, said last week the agency should soon wrap up its probe into Betts' possible motivations for the shooting.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus contributed to this report. Follow Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell
This story has been corrected to show Kollie is 25, not 24.