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Originally published November 19, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Page modified November 19, 2010 at 10:18 PM

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Feds arrest gun dealer who allegedly sold rifle used in police officer's slaying

A 68-year-old Olympia gun dealer who is believed to have sold the rifle that was used to kill Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton last year was arrested Friday for selling two other firearms to people prohibited from owning weapons, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Seattle Times staff reporter

David Devenny was getting out of the gun-selling business and planning a three-week trip to the Philippines when he was arrested Friday on suspicion of selling firearms to people prohibited from owning them, according to a federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Devenny, a 68-year-old Olympia man, was not licensed to sell firearms but apparently "made good money" during eight years of unlawful dealings, the complaint said.

In January, Devenny allegedly told an undercover agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that he sold the rifle used to kill Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton and wound rookie Officer Britt Sweeney on Oct. 31, 2009, according to the complaint.

He "admitted that he was the one that sold the gun that 'killed that cop and wounded that — that lady cop ... ' referring to the murder of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton," the complaint says. Devenny said "he sold it to somebody at the Puyallup gun show," but didn't know who the buyer was "because he did not keep records."

Devenny allegedly sold the customized Kel-Tec .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle at a gun show in Puyallup on Oct. 24, one week before the officers were shot in their patrol car.

Christopher Monfort was arrested in Tukwila six days after the shootings and charged with aggravated first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. King County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Monfort.

Detectives found the semi-automatic rifle in Monfort's apartment, according to Seattle police. They traced the weapon back to its original owner, who told them he had sold it to Devenny, according to the federal complaint.

Cheryl Bishop, spokeswoman for the ATF Seattle field office, explained that gun shows like the one in Puyallup are "designed for private sellers to sell, trade and exchange guns," which is legal.

However, those who are "engaged in the business of selling guns, resupplying your stock and profiting" from the sale of the weapons are required to have a license, Bishop said. Licensed gun dealers, she said, are required to run background checks on prospective buyers and cannot sell to felons or people with domestic-violence-related restraining orders filed against them.

According to the federal complaint, Devenny — who liked to call himself "Handlebar Dave" — espoused a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it came to selling firearms.

Federal agents launched their investigation into Devenny in May 2009.

During the investigation, two two-man teams, each comprised of an undercover agent and a confidential informant, made appointments to visit Devenny at his Olympia home, the complaint says.

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In a February visit, one of the confidential informants tried to explain to Devenny that he was prohibited from owning a gun because of a domestic-violence restraining order. According to the complaint, Devenny responded: "I don't want to hear about it, I am not supposed to know about it, and I don't ask that question. Just as long as you forget where it [the firearm] comes from." Devenny is accused of selling the informant a Glock .40-caliber pistol and a Norinco SKS rifle for $875.

The second informant has had multiple felony convictions, including a conviction for possessing stolen property and a firearm offense, the complaint says. That informant paid $850 for two guns, and Devenny added in a free box of ammunition, the complaint says.

Both undercover agents also bought firearms from Devenny, according to the complaint.

At the time of Devenny's arrest, federal agents recovered 42 guns and $32,000 in cash, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Monfort, 42, is not named in Devenny's criminal complaint. Monfort did not have a criminal record when he purchased the rifle and so was not prohibited from buying or owning firearms.

"This is about public safety. Illegal gun sales are a threat to our police and our communities," U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a news release. "We will continue to prosecute felons who possess guns illegally. And we will prosecute the people who put those guns in their hands."

Seattle Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.

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