ST. LOUIS • A man accused of plotting to kill police also talked of gluing a gun to an African-American’s hand to get him shot by officers, and of shooting police to provoke violence at the Ferguson protests, an FBI agent said Thursday in federal court.
Special Agent Ankur Patel’s testimony came in a hearing on defense lawyer Matthew Radefeld’s motion to toss out evidence against David Michael Hagler, 53. U.S. Magistrate Judge Noelle Collins asked for additional briefs before ruling.
In court filings and in court, Radefeld said that two confidential informers used by the St. Louis police and the FBI gave false information, or information not borne out by a raid of Hagler’s home, in the 1100 block of Howell Street, near the Halls Ferry Circle, in March.
In an interview, Radefeld cautioned that many of the claims against Hagler were just talk.
“Are his statements racist or prejudiced? Well, yeah,” he said. “I don’t think they’re very flattering comments.” But he said there is no evidence “that he would ever follow through with any of that.”
The informers’ claims about Hagler’s plans to harm police led to the raid and the discovery of about two dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. He faces charges of machine gun possession, making false statements during the purchase of a gun, possession of firearms after having been convicted of a domestic assault and possession of firearms by a marijuana user.
In a search warrant affidavit released late last month, one informer was quoted as saying he had seen “substantial deterioration” in Hagler’s “morality” recently, fueled by his long-standing hatred of his ex-wife, “events” in Ferguson and Hagler’s fear of losing his property over unpaid taxes.
Hagler lived “off the grid” in the middle of the city, heating his home with a wood stove, relying on solar panels or a generator for electricity and using water stored in a container on his property, the informers told authorities. One described him as like “Rambo.”
But investigators did not find a sawed-off shotgun, booby traps, explosives, fully automatic rifles, a tunnel, a marijuana growing operation or some other things mentioned by informers.
Patel testified that Hagler’s conversations either were relayed to police by the informers or caught on recordings.
He said Hagler talked of using Super Glue to attach a gun to an African-American man’s hand, pushing him in front of police and yelling, “Gun!” He also spoke of removing the firing pin from a pistol, selling it in his neighborhood and watching what would happen, the agent said.
The Ferguson comment was recorded on video, the search warrant affidavit says. Hagler is quoted as saying, “If you really want to stir things up in Ferguson all you had to do is shoot a couple of the cops while the protesters were out demonstrating.”
Radefeld asked Patel several different times and ways whether there was any evidence that Hagler had taken steps to commit such acts.
“You mean, did we wait until he shot somebody?” Patel replied at one point.