Gap in background check system allowed AR-15 sale to Pease Park gunman

A gap in the background check system allowed a man to legally purchase an AR-15 from a South Austin gun store recently, despite having a felony arrest warrant out of Harris County.

The purchase of a Ruger AR-15 was made at Central Texas Gunworks. The buyer, Dalton Broesche, later went to Pease Park on August 14 where police say he had hidden the rifle in some bushes. 

News of the arrest prompted store owner Michael Cargill to search sales records.

"I was in disbelief, shocked, so I had to ask my employees do you remember this guy, do you remember anything about him when he came in. anything that triggered you, to make you think he should not be able to purchase a firearm,” said Cargill.

Cargill says Broesche legally purchased the rifle. Store records show that after waiting three days for the FBI background check to be completed on July 27th, a notice allowing the sale was sent and Broesche took possession of the rifle.

"The NCIC’s didn't give us a response, and there is no response given, so if there is no response, we can actually transfer the firearm to the individual,” said Cargill.

What Cargill didn't know was that a criminal charge had already been filed against Broesche, not in Austin, but rather in Houston.

"We had no knowledge of him having any type of record whatsoever,” said Cargill.  

According to court records, an arrest warrant was filed July 3rd for an alleged assault with a family member a year ago. Broesche is accused of threatening his father with a knife during an argument. 

The case remained in limbo for almost a year before a review by the Harris County Sheriff's Office was started up in June. When asked why it took so long, a HCSO spokesperson stated Broesche refused to meet with investigators.

Officials with the ATF say that anyone with an outstanding felony warrant cannot possess or purchase firearms. Cargill doesn't understand why the criminal charge did not immediately trigger a denial.

"Nothing popped up about him having a record, and we are not going to get that information as a gun store,” said Cargill.

A review of digital records revealed another problem. A motion for a protection order in the Harris County assault case was made July 3rd. Court officials confirm as of Monday morning no ruling has been made.

"See that’s very disturbing, because he came to us on July 27th to purchase a firearm, and so what if he was buying that firearm to go and kill that person he had an issue,” said Cargill, who added if there was an active protection order, he would not have been able to sell him the rifle.

There is also confusion about the other weapons Broesche had with him at Pease Park resulting in the misdemeanor charges he is facing in Travis County. It may turn out he had them legally.  

Back in June, Broesche completed a handgun class at Cargill's store. Investigators are not saying where the handgun Broesche had came from, but Cargill said it did not come from his store. A preliminary review of state records indicates a "license to carry" permit for Broesche has been mailed to his home in Austin.

Another thing that remains unclear is which court case will move first: the one here in Austin with the weapons or the assault case in Houston. 

Cargill believes this disturbing case should be addressed by the gun task force recently created by Gov. Greg Abbott.