MONACA, Pa. (AP) — There’s a “real possibility” a Georgia man jailed on charges he brought a stolen gun and ammunition into a western Pennsylvania movie theater planned to shoot it up, a prosecutor told The Associated Press on Thursday.
“I think common sense tells us that was a real possibility, but again, we’re still investigating the matter,” Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier said.
Lozier was talking about 21-year-old William Gossett, of Covington, Georgia. Gossett was arrested Saturday at the Cinemark Theater in Center Township, about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, after police saw him walking around in 90-degree temperatures in long-sleeved military fatigues and carrying a large bag.
The bag contained the .25-caliber handgun that police said had been stolen in Columbiana, Ohio, ammunition and other items including at least one knife, a bandanna and surgical mask, and a note that authorities haven’t described. For now, Gossett has been charged in state court only with receiving stolen property — the gun — and carrying it without a license.
The FBI was helping trace Gossett’s travels through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and into Pennsylvania, Lozier said.
“It’s a jurisdictional issue. I can’t go into Ohio and determine whether he stole the gun,” Lozier said, explaining the FBI’s involvement. The FBI in Pittsburgh hasn’t commented on the investigation, but U.S. Attorney David Hickton, whose office will prosecute any federal charges filed, confirmed the federal agency’s involvement.
“The matter is currently under review and when we can report on our investigation we will,” Hickton said.
Gossett doesn’t have an attorney listed in court records and the AP could not immediately reach his parents for comment. But Lozier said Gossett’s family and others have been or will be interviewed. Gossett’s parents spoke with WXIA-TV in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Kyle Gossett told the station that his son, who goes by his middle name of Dakotah, has been in trouble since he was a juvenile. Gossett and his ex-wife Lisa Fox, said they haven’t seen their son since June and that he has defriended them on Facebook. Gossett is serving 10 years’ probation in Georgia after his arrest last year for having a fake ID and someone else’s credit card information.
But his parents are mostly concerned about his violent tendencies, which they said he’s had since he was a teen.
“He was always playing the war games on the computer and his mind was in a game world. I tried to get him help,” Fox told the station.
Kyle Gossett said he pleaded with a juvenile court judge in Georgia to give the boy more than probation when he got in trouble as a juvenile, and even got a judge to order a mental evaluation, but that turned up nothing and the boy was released from juvenile custody.
“We tried to get him help and tried to get him into other places. They said unless he had tried to hurt somebody or himself they couldn’t take him,” Kyle Gossett said in his TV station interview.
Center Township police said Gossett initially gave them a false name, then told them he had walked to the theater and found the gun in the street, according to a criminal complaint.
Police were concerned that Gossett told them he planned to see “The Purge: Election Year,” a sequel in a series of movies about it being legal to kill people one day a year.
Earlier Thursday, police also got a search warrant so they can download information from Gossett’s cellphone and personal devices in hopes of retracing his steps and determining whether he communicated anything about his intentions, Lozier said.