FT. MYERS (CBSMiami) — A man who talked about shooting up a Florida synagogue had the weapons and ammunition to carry out the threat, according to authorities.
The suspect, Alfredo Sanchez, 43, faces charges of Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Felon. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says Sanchez is a convicted felon from Miami-Dade County and was previously sentenced to prison for firearm charges. Under Florida law, convicted felons are not allowed to possess firearms or ammunition.
In addition, he actually attended the Ft. Myers Synagogue he threatened.
According to the Rabbi from the Chabad Lubavitch of Southwest Florida, Sanchez and his family have attended for about a year.
The investigation into Sanchez started about two weeks ago when he told a fellow synagogue member, “If he had another screw loose, he would go to the synagogue and shoot it up,” according to the arrest report.
“Sanchez made at least one statement indicating that he had the ability and the means to carry out a shooting at the synagogue. It was also reported that Sanchez offered to sell a firearm to a synagogue member,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
That led deputies to dig into Sanchez, who shouldn’t have weapons or ammunition in his possession.
“Detectives interviewed multiple witnesses and ultimately established probable cause for a search warrant for Sanchez’s home. During this search detectives discovered a large amount of ammunition, gun cases, gun cleaning accessories, but no firearms,” said Sheriff Marceno.
Firearms were found, however, while searching a family member’s home. Police say they found a duffel bag full of weapons, including an AK 47 style rifle.
The contents of the investigation came as a surprise to his neighbors, who call him a regular guy.
“He’s been a hell of a gentleman,” Earnest Larussi said. “Wife, two kids, cuts the grass, everything.”
“Always talk to me, wave to him,” David Noack said. “He seems like a really good guy.”
Marceno says there is now an “open and active investigation” into whether Sanchez may also face federal charges.
“This investigation not only took firearms out of the hands of a convicted felon, it may very well prevented an unspeakable event that could be seen on national news,” the sheriff said.