Discuss as:

Activists, pols: How did mentally ill killer amass an arsenal?

 

A special weeklong examination of gun violence, gun ownership and gun legislation. NBC News journalists will report across "NBC Nightly News," "TODAY," MSNBC, CNBC, NBCNews.com, and more. The conversation will also extend across NBC News and MSNBC's social media platforms using the hashtag #GunsInUSA.

In 1995, when Minnesota teen Christian Phillip Oberender killed his mother with a shotgun, he was deemed mentally ill and dangerous by a juvenile court and committed to a psychiatric hospital. Eight years later, at age 22, Oberender was released after living in a halfway house. But in January, 13 guns were discovered in his home, including an AK-47, a Tommy gun and shotguns, according to court documents. He was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms.

“I think everyone was quite scared to be honest with you,’’ Oberender’s neighbor, Dennis Hilk, told NBC News.

Police also found a chilling note addressed to Oberender’s deceased mother, according to court documents.

“I feel the good part of me fade away,’’ he wrote in the note. “I don’t know how long I can hold it in for. The monster want out. I know what happens when he comes out. He only been out one time and someone die.”


Oberender’s arrest has left gun control activists and local politicians vowing to close the loopholes that allowed Oberender to amass an arsenal.

“In the polarized world that we're in right now it seems as if you're either for quote-unquote gun control or for addressing the mental health issues when the reality is that we need to reduce gun violence by doing both,’’ Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak told NBC News.

Oberender, 32, is believed to have obtained a legitimate firearms permit due to a number of snafus, including the fact that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had no record of him murdering his mother (an issue that is currently being investigated). Oberender’s attorney did not respond to an interview request by NBC News.

Police were tipped off to his weapons stash when Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson, who was a young detective 18 years ago when Oberender was sentenced, heard that the man had posted pictures of guns on his Facebook page. Olson went online and found photos of Oberender toting weapons and posts expressing sympathy for the shooters in the school massacres at Columbine High School and Newtown, Conn., according to court documents. A warrant was obtained to search the house, which led to the discovery of Oberender's arsenal.

“He should not have guns posted on Facebook,’’ Olson told NBC News. “He should not have guns.’’

Olson shudders to think what could have happened if the name Christian Phillip Oberender had not rung a bell when he heard about the Facebook page.

“This certainly could have turned out differently for us — for Carver County, for Minnesota, and for America,’’ he said. 

Read more: 

'The monster want out': Mentally ill killer amassed huge arsenal, police say

Obama unveils sweeping new gun control proposals

Biden: New gun controls likely won't end shootings

Biden: White House 'determined to take action' on gun reform