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Armed gunman in FBI Cincinnati attack has ties to Tampa Bay

Ricky Shiffer, 42, has lived at multiple Tampa Bay-area addresses and was registered to vote in Hillsborough County as recently as 2021.
In this image taken from FOX19 Cincinnati video, FBI officials gather outside the FBI building in Cincinnati, Thursday. An armed man decked out in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at the FBI field office.
In this image taken from FOX19 Cincinnati video, FBI officials gather outside the FBI building in Cincinnati, Thursday. An armed man decked out in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at the FBI field office. [ AP ]
Published Aug. 13

A gunman who died in a shootout after trying to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office Thursday has ties to Tampa Bay and was registered to vote in Hillsborough County as recently as 2021, according to records.

Ricky Walter Shiffer, 42, was armed with a nail gun and an AR-15-style rifle when he tried to breach the visitor screening area at the FBI office, authorities said. Shiffer fled when agents confronted him.

A state trooper later spotted Shiffer along a highway and got into a gun battle that ended with police killing Shiffer, authorities said.

Shiffer has lived at multiple Tampa Bay addresses over the years, starting in 2005, according to Hillsborough County court records.

He faced five different minor traffic-related charges from 2005 to 2009, records show.

Shiffer’s first address listed in Hillsborough County courts is from 2005 in New Port Richey. From 2006 to 2009, court records show he lived at a few different Tampa apartment complexes. Shiffer was registered to vote in Hillsborough County in 2021 as a Republican in Tampa. His voter status is active.

As a registered Republican, he voted in the 2020 primary from Columbus, Ohio, and in the 2020 general election from Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to public records.

Court records show the Ohio Department of Taxation filed suit against him in June, seeking a $553 tax lien judgment, according to court records listing him at an address in St. Petersburg. He also previously lived at several addresses in Columbus and in Omaha, Nebraska.

Shiffer enlisted in the Navy in 1998 and served on the USS Columbia submarine from 1999 to 2003, according to military records.

He served as an infantry soldier in 2008 for the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, Nahaku McFadden, a spokesperson for the National Guard Bureau wrote in an email to the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday. The battalion is located in Orlando, according to an article written by the U.S. Army. Shiffer was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom from January 2010 to January 2011, McFadden wrote. He left the Florida National Army Guard in May 2011 as a corporal.

Federal investigators are examining social media accounts they believe are tied to Shiffer, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official said Shiffer apparently went on social media and called for federal agents to be killed “on sight” following the search at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, a law enforcement official said.

At least one of the messages on Trump’s Truth Social media platform appeared to have been posted after Shiffer tried to breach the FBI office. It read: “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I.”

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Another message posted on the same site this week from @rickywshifferjr included a “call to arms” and urged people to “be ready for combat” after the FBI search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Authorities also are looking into whether Shiffer had ties to far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, the official said. Other Tampa Bay residents also have been alleged to have ties to the extremist group, including a Tampa man and a Seminole man — both of whom are accused of participating in the Jan 6., 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Shiffer is believed to have been in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to the insurrection and may have been at the Capitol that day but was not charged with any crimes in connection with the riot, the official said.

The FBI is investigating what happened in Cincinnati as an act of domestic extremism, according to the law enforcement official.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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