Vanatta Picked Up For Gun Possession
Joshua Patrick Vanatta, 30, of Bainville appeared June 9 in Great Falls before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston and pleaded not guilty on charges of possession of ammunition by a felon, possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of a firearm without a serial number.
According to court documents, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick O’Conner searched classified ads on Facebook May 26 and found a user attempting to discreetly sell firearms through the ad, a violation of Facebook rules.
Court documents also stated that O’Conner advised ATF resident agent in charge Joseph Korth that firearms sales are common occurrence over Facebook and noted in this instance the seller was using obvious manufacturer names and language for firearms but called the items listed for sale as tools or toolbox.
The deputy also noted another listing by the same usemame and found a photograph of vehicle and residence known to be Joshua Vanatta’s. O’Connor found, upon review of the Facebook page for the user associated to the sale, the URL had “joshuavanatta” in it.
Vanatta is on parole conditions with Montana Probation and Parole in connection to an attempted homicide case in Colorado where he shot two people and was ultimately convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.
O’Connor contacted Vannatta’s parole officer Jacob Holden and explained what was found on Facebook. Holden requested a search of Vanatta’s residence and authorized O’Connor to complete it.
Vanatta’s residence was searched by deputies who seized several items from inside his room. Deputies seized a slam-type weapon made of a series of pipes threaded together capable of firing 12 gauge shot shells. The slam-type weapon also had a portion of Velcro on the side of that matched a corresponding “side saddle” containing six rounds of 12 gauge shotgun shells. Six shotgun shells were also seized along with receipts for firearms accessories.
Vanatta was interviewed by O’Connor and allegedly admitted to manufacturing the device and that it is his.
If convicted of the most serious crime, Vanatta faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Vanatta was detained pending further proceedings.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case.