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Grenade Launcher, Machine Guns Seized; Nazi Flag Found During Raid

April 29, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A grenade launcher, three machine guns and other weapons were seized by police who arrested six people at a motel Friday and authorities reported finding a Nazi flag in a car searched during the raid.

Federal weapons charges were lodged against five Texans and a local man after authorities said they seized an M-16 grenade launcher, three machine guns, five handguns, four rifles, a shotgun, five automatic weapons and 10 silencers in the pre-dawn raid on three rooms of a motel in the city’s northeast section.

City police and federal agents sought to determine what those who were arrested had planned to do with the weapons. ″They’re very destructive sort of weapons,″ said John Kelso, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office. ″They have the power to kill people or to inflict serious bodily injury.″

Six children, aged 7 to 15, were found in the motel rooms and taken into protective custody, Kelso said.

A Nazi flag was found in one of two cars, bearing Texas license plates, searched during the raid, said Kelso.

Authorities said the investigation started less than 24 hours after the FBI’s Dallas field office received a call from a suburban Dallas woman, who was not further identified, saying that her son, identified as John Barnhart, 33, had been kidnapped.

The woman said Barnhart had been missing for two weeks and instructed her to wire him $1,000 here or ″some harm would come to him,″ according to Kelso.

FBI agents traced Barnhart to the motel and quickly determined that he hadn’t been kidnapped, Kelso said.

″Apparently they may have been low on funds and this may have been an effort by him to get some additional funds,″ Kelso said. ″It’s unfortunate that he would involve his mother.″

Police and the FBI, with assistance from the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Secret Service, stormed the three hotel rooms simultaneously at 3:30 a.m., EDT, said Sgt. Joseph Gentile, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department.

The Nazi flag, several knives and assorted documents also were recovered, he said, refusing to divulge the contents of the documents.

Two people, identified as Richard William McEwen, 40, and his wife, Billie Joy McEwen, 43, of Rowlett, Texas, suffered minor injuries during the raid when officers restrained them from going for their weapons, according to Gentile. Both were treated at D.C. General Hospital and released to police custody.

Others arrested were identified as Barnhart; Margaret Arredondo, 29, of Dallas; Kelvin Owen, 21, of Washington, D.C.; and Diane Joy McEwen, 28, of Rowlett.