United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Steven M. Fitch, age 25, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson for being in unlawful possession of a destructive device. Sentencing has been scheduled for January 20, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. before the Honorable Brian C. Buescher. Fitch faces a maximum punishment of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release.
An investigation conducted by the Omaha Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms determined that on May 31, 2020, Fitch was participating in protests in and around downtown Omaha, Nebraska. During the protests, Fitch was encountered by officers with the Omaha Police Department at 15th and Jackson Streets. Officers determined Fitch possessed a destructive device, also known as a Molotov Cocktail, which is a firearm under the National Firearms Act. The Molotov Cocktail was located in Fitch’s front pants pocket and consisted of a glass bottle with clear liquid inside and a red rag protruding out of the opening. Fitch also had several lighters in his front pants pocket.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Forensic Services Bureau tested the red rag that was attached to the Molotov Cocktail, which was positive for containing the chemical “Gasoline.” The Molotov Cocktail was in operating condition and was capable of exploding when ignited.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms determined that the Molotov Cocktail device was not registered to Fitch as required by the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
After Fitch’s plea, FBI Omaha SAC Eugene Kowel said, “The FBI is committed to protecting all those who are exercising their First Amendment rights, including the right to peacefully protest. This is part of our core mission. When someone violently threatens the safety of peaceful protesters by breaking the law, as Steven Fitch has admitted to, FBI Omaha is fully committed to identifying, investigating, and arresting those individuals responsible.”
This case was investigated by the Omaha Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.