Guns for drugs.
That was the genesis of the gun that ultimately brought so much horror and pain during the Trolley Square shooting, a federal prosecutor said Monday.
The greed for drugs and cash was the motivating factor, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Huber said, that led three men to ultimately supply a .38 special handgun to Sulejman Talovic, who ended up going on a shooting rampage on Feb. 12, killing five and wounding four others.
On Monday, the last of three men pleaded guilty to supplying the gun to Talovic.
Dressed in a navy blue suit and sporting a military haircut, Matthew Hautala, 21, appeared in U.S. District Court Monday to plead guilty to one count of aiding in the transfer of a firearm to a juvenile. As his parents sat and watched, Hautala accepted a plea deal that reduced a felony count to a misdemeanor. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball then sentenced Hautala to one year probation and fined him $250.
Kimball said he hoped the young man would be able "to get on with his life."
Hautala's attorney, Richard Mauro, said his client is still working on a future. He is a full-time student at Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs and recently completed basic training in the U.S. Army. Mauro said the misdemeanor conviction is not likely to affect his status in the Army.
"This case strikes at the heart of our community," Huber said, but added out of all three men, Hautala was the least culpable and he never knew or met Talovic.
Two other men have also recently pleaded guilty. Brenden Taylor Brown, 21, pleaded guilty to aiding in the sale of a firearm to a juvenile and was also sentenced to 12 months probation.
Mackenzie Hunter, 20, pleaded guilty last Friday to a felony count of possessing a firearm by a drug user and a misdemeanor count of aiding in the sale of a firearm to a juvenile. When sentenced on Jan. 14, Hunter faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
Hautala offered no statement in court. Outside of court neither Hautala nor his parents would comment.
Hubert said the gun came from a Rock Springs man who reported his gun was missing. Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Salt Lake police have since learned that the man's son took the gun to trade for drugs. Hubert said Hautala and Hunter bartered the gun for drugs. The gun was then transported to Salt Lake City, where Hunter and Brown met Talovic in the parking lot of a Salt Lake City MacDonald's, where Hunter admits he sold the gun for $800.
Hubert said federal authorities in Wyoming are currently investigating the young man who originally took the gun from his father.Another man, Westley Wayne Hill, is charged with selling Talovic a shotgun, also used in the massacre. He is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 26.