ATF Wrecks Tulsa Home

On December 16, 1991, a joint task force of some sixty ATF agents and local law enforcement personnel, accompanied by two television crews, broke into the Tulsa, Oklahoma, home of John Lawmaster.

Acting on a tip that Lawmaster had illegally converted a semi-automatic to full automatic, the ATF worked with Lawmaster's ex-wife to lure Lawmaster away from his home before the raid. With Lawmaster absent, ATF knocked down his front door with a battering ram. While some agents stood guard with weapons drawn, other agents broke open his gun safe, scattered his personal papers, spilled boxes of ammunition onto the floor, and broke into a small, locked box that contained precious coins. To look through some ceiling tiles, one agent stood on a table, breaking the table in the process.

Neighbors who asked what ATF was doing were threatened with arrest. The ATF left doors, tables, and safes broken and guns and ammunition unsecured on the floor, and a note: "Nothing found -- ATF." No charges were filed. The affadavit supporting the search warrant was sealed by the US Attorney's office.

When Lawmaster returned, utility company representatives arrived, and told him that they had been told to shut off all his utilities.