Saturday, December 16, 2017

Wis. company that sold to Va. Tech gunman closes

MADISON, Wis. — An online weapons dealer who sold the handgun used in the Virginia Tech massacre and provided equipment in two other mass shootings has quietly closed up shop amid a flurry of complaints from customers who allege he failed to deliver orders after billing them.

Police say Eric Thompson last month abruptly closed his Green Bay, Wis., business, TGSCOM Inc., as they investigated scores of complaints from customers in nearly every state.

TGSCOM's connections to three mass shootings have drawn national attention in recent years. Seung-Hui Cho used a .22-caliber handgun purchased through TGSCOM when he killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in April 2007. Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five people in a Northern Illinois University classroom in 2008, bought two empty magazines and a holster through a company site. George Sodini, who killed three women at a Pittsburgh area health club in 2009, bought an empty magazine and a magazine loading apparatus from the company.

Thompson defended the sales to the three mass shooters, saying they could just as easily have bought their gear at a Walmart.

Thompson, who has claimed his company generates millions of dollars, has had run-ins with federal regulators, and now he has dozens of people across the country angry with him.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported in 2011 that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives records show that an inspector found a number of violations at TGSCOM in 2009, including selling a gun without the required waiting period and selling a gun to someone who didn't answer all of the required background questions. The violations came on the heels of other problems the ATF detected at the company in 2007, the newspaper reported.

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau has catalogued nearly 200 complaints from consumers in 44 states between January and this week accusing the business of charging them but failing to deliver their orders. The bureau issued an alert about the company June 1, urging customers to contact their credit card companies and dispute payments to TGSCOM.

Green Bay police detectives have been talking with prosecutors about potential charges. The FBI is reviewing the complaints as well.

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