Feds arrest Antioch man accused of trying to buy sniper rifle after watching ISIS videos


Federal authorities arrested an Antioch, Tenn. man accused of trying to buy a sniper rifle after watching ISIS propaganda videos and being committed to a mental institution for an evaluation.

Khari Milak Whitehead, 26, was arrested on Friday morning and federally charged with making a false statement to purchase a firearm.

ATF and FBI agents were alerted to Whitehead's behavior in early 2018 when the suspect tried purchasing a semi-automatic gun from Walmart on Feb. 22, after he had been committed to a mental institution for evaluation. Whitehead apparently wrote on his ATF application form that he had never been committed to a mental institution. His purchase was denied after a background check.

The complaint into Whitehead's gun purchase also brought up other incidents, including:

  • Whitehead was arrested by Metro Nashville Police and charged in 2013 after displaying a hand grenade in a crowded nightclub. The grenade was found to be inert
  • Police were called to Whitehead's home on Nov. 7, 2017 after the suspect was reported to be "acting out of control and angry." Family members said Whitehead had converted to Islam, had been watching ISIS propaganda videos and stated, "White people are going to end up getting it." His family told police they feared he was going to commit a mass murder.
  • On Dec. 7, 2017, a Rutherford County judge ordered Whitehead to be committed for a mental evaluation due to his behavior in searching ISIS videos and mass shootings and trying to buy a sniper rifle from Walmart.

Those living near his family's Antioch home said they had no idea.

"I was thinking because he has these problems with his mental health, maybe he's violent," said Christine Tartisio, a family friend. "But talking about ISIS? This is too big for me."

"It's good that they caught him, and I would say that the law enforcement did a good thing to follow up with him and get him before he got a gun," said Antioch neighbor Sammy Sambino. "Nobody knew what he was going to do with it."

His family wouldn't speak with Fox 17 News on camera but said Whitehead is schizophrenic and very paranoid.

Whitehead is slated for a preliminary detention hearing at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. If committed, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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