United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Steven M. Fitch, age 25, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was sentenced today in federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, by United States District Judge Brian C. Buescher for being in unlawful possession of a destructive device. Judge Buescher sentenced Fitch to 30 months’ imprisonment. There is no parole in the federal system. Once Fitch is released from prison, he will begin a three-year term 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. 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.
“This case demonstrates the commitment of ATF and our Law Enforcement partners to investigate those that threaten the life and property of others by introducing violence and fear into peaceful, well-intended protests,” said Fred Winston, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Kansas City Field Division.
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.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of Nebraska