Federal judge orders accused NYE shooter detained pending trial on gun charge

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 11:06 AM CST
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UPDATE Feb. 2, 2023: Thomas Earl Thomas Jr. is already being held without bond under Aniah’s Law in connection with a mass shooting in downtown Mobile on New Year’s Eve. Now, he’s been ordered detained again by a different judge.

A federal judge ruled that Thomas should be detained pending trial on charges that the gun he’s accused of using during that shooting had been illegally modified with a so-called Glock switch, which converts pistols into machine guns.



MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Thomas Earl Thomas Jr., the man accused of sparking a mass shooting downtown on New Year’s Eve, now faces federal charges.

A grand jury has indicted Thomas on charges of illegal possession of a machine gun and possession of an unregistered firearm. Prosecutors allege that the gun he fired had a so-called Glock switch, which transforms a semi-automatic weapon until a fully automatic gun.

If convicted, Thomas faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Mobile County prosecutors allege that Thomas, armed with a .22-caliber Glock handgun, exchanged gunfire with a man on Dauphin Street during the New Year’s Eve celebration. They contend that Thomas killed one man and he and third wounded each other with gunfire, while bullets also struck seven innocent bystanders.

A grand jury will consider charges in that case. His lawyer, Chase Dearman, has argued that Thomas was acting in self-defense. He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Federal prosecutors asked a judge to order Thomas detained pending trial.

Possession of Glock switches, or chips, is not illegal under state law. But federal prosecutors in Mobile have said prosecuting those cases has been a top priority.

Acting U.S. Attorney Sean Costello told FOX10 News earlier this month that investigators believe some of the altered guns showing up on the streets of Mobile have been produced locally on 3D printers.

Updated at 5:37 p.m. to including information about the federal detention motion.


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