Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 26, 2013

Man arrested on federal gun charge

Pictures posted on web in Klan attire.

A Kokomo man is facing a federal charge as a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said Michael A. Hiers, 39, 1000 block of Emery Street, was arrested on the charges following an ATV investigation.

In the criminal complaint it is alleged that Hiers appears in a series of images found on Facebook and on a locally-administered website affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. The two photographs depict an individual wearing a black robe and hood, holding a machete in one hand and a handgun in the other. In the background of one photograph is a Confederate flag and in the other a “White Pride” flag.

The pictures were posted on Feb. 24 on the Facebook page “Punchy Johnson,” which is maintained by Shane M. Johnson.

Hiers admitted to the ATF investigators that the pictures are of him and that it was his firearm.

Hogsett said a federal search warrant was served by ATF agents on July 22 and allegedly found a Bryco Jennings handgun, with an obliterated serial number, along with ammunition for that handgun.

Hiers was convicted on a burglary charge in 1994 in Miami County and a burglary charge in 1996 in Knox County.

Hogsett said the filing of the criminal complaint is a part of the ongoing Violent Crime Initiative.

He said the U.S. Attorney’s office in Indianapolis will seek incarceration for Hiers, who faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.

“There is a stiffer penalty because it’s a federal prosecution,” Hogsett said. “We want to get the guns out of the hands of people must likely to use them. This individual is also involved with a group in the Kokomo area,” he said of the pictures.

“Hoosier neighborhoods have seen too many tragedies at the hands of illegally-armed felons,” he said. “That is why we launched our Violent Crime Initiative two years ago, to break down jurisdictional lines, bring all our resources together and ultimately make communities like Kokomo a safer place to live and work.”

In the year before the initiative was started there were 14 defendants charged with federal gun charges, since then more than 200 people have been charged.

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