A burglar broke into an FBI vehicle and stole weapons – including a .40 caliber Glock-22 handgun and a Rock River Arms Rifle – hours before DNC staffer Seth Rich was shot multiple times just two miles north of the weapons theft.
Now a private investigator is suing the Metropolitan Police Department for ballistics reports that would reveal whether the two crimes, both of which took place in the early hours of July 10, 2016, are in any way connected.
“Our investigators have learned that one hour on the morning of July 12, one hour before the murder of Seth Rich, there was an FBI SUV in the vicinity … of the shooting of Seth Rich.
Two guns were stolen from that SUV one hour before the killing of Seth – a 22 Glock and an M4 rifle,” said Jack Burkman, the head of the Profiling Project investigative team, which is seeking video footage of the shooting, the medical examiner’s report, autopsy documents and ballistics reports.
Burkman, who made the statements at a news conference Wednesday, said video footage, the medical examiner’s report and ballistics reports are crucial to finding out how Rich was killed.
“One hour after, approximately one hour and 10 minutes after the killing of Seth, this was reported stolen by the person in charge of that SUV,” he said.
“This is why ballistics are so critically important. We need to know if that ammunition was somehow a part of the shooting of Seth.”
Media asked if Burkman currently has any specific information connecting the two crimes.
“We don’t know that there’s any link, and that’s the problem,” Burkman said.
“They won’t release the ballistics report to verify whether those were the weapons used.”
Burkman, who has been working with his Profiling Project team to investigate the Rich murder for more than 10 months and is offering a $105,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Rich’s killer, said he has refrained from criticizing police. But, he claimed, the police’s insistence on withholding the most basic information pertaining to Rich’s murder – information that is typically made public in other homicide cases – is highly suspect.
“I have not been a vocal critic of the police, but I am now,” Burkman said.
“I don’t understand why they are withholding key information. We simply don’t know what their motives are.
Is there a cover-up? Is there something they don’t want out? They seem to want this in the cold-case file. No new information has been released in this case since late October.”
The text of Burkman’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the District of Columbia Superior Court, can be read here.
A police report issued by the Metropolitan Police Department (full report included at the end of this article) indicates that Rich was shot by a handgun around 4:20 a.m. It notes that he was “conscious and breathing with apparent gunshot wound(s) to the back” when authorities arrived on the scene. However, the report doesn’t offer further details about what type of handgun was used in the shooting. And law-enforcement officials have offered no information concerning what Rich may have told them before he was pronounced dead at a “local area hospital” at 5:57 a.m.
Meanwhile, the FBI has reported that “unknown subjects burglarized an FBI special agent’s vehicle and removed a secured gun lock box which contained weapons and other equipment” between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. on the morning of July 10, 2016. The burglary took place in the H Street Corridor near H and Seventh Streets, N.E., less than two miles south of the location where Rich would be shot just hours later.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen weapons. According to the bureau, the burglar(s) stole the following items from a parked Ford Expedition:
- Glock-22 handgun .40 caliber, Serial Number RYE448
- Rock River Arms Rifle, LAR-15, Serial Number CM156996
- Motorola radio APX-7000, Serial Number 655CLT044
- Holster for Glock-22 handgun
- Asp collapsible baton
- Oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray
- Two boxes of .40 caliber ammunition
- Hearing and eye protective gear
- TruckVault gun lock box, black
When media contacted the FBI the agency declined to comment and referred them to the Metropolitan Police Department. Then the media contacted the MPD and asked if the handgun used in Rich’s murder was a .40 caliber Glock 22 or another type of handgun.
MPD Officer Sean Hickman said: “We cannot discuss what evidence we have in this case, as it’s an ongoing, open homicide investigation.”
Washington’s WJLA-TV 7 asked MPD Chief Peter Newsham for comment on the Burkman lawsuit and request for ballistics reports.
“It’s not uncommon for [inaudible] the police department to be sued,” Newsham said.
“I can’t talk about any, you know, pending litigation. So when somebody sues the District of Columbia, everything will be hashed out in court.”
During his press conference Wednesday, Burkman said he had hoped his team would have found Rich’s murderer by now.
“I had hoped that by now, having been in this 10 months, that I would have been able to honor my commitment to the family and to the city and find the killers of Seth Rich,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we have not. One of the reasons for that is that this institution, the D.C. police, the mayor, the District of Columbia have not been helpful and forth coming.”
The Metropolitan Police Department and Washington, D.C., mayor’s office maintain that Rich was killed during an attempted robbery, even though the murderers left behind his wallet, credit cards and other valuables.
A manager at Lou’s City Bar, the last known location where Rich was seen before his murder, claims police never interviewed the bar’s staff or requested evidence, such as footage from security cameras.