DETROIT, March 26 2005 – LAWFUEL -The Law News Network — Valerie J. Goddard, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Division, announced today that a violent militiaman from Northwest Michigan was sentenced in federal court late
yesterday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for unlawfully possessing machineguns.
Norman David Somerville, a 44-year-old resident of Mesick, Michigan, was
sentenced to 80 months in prison and a $2,000 fine for possessing and
distributing some 13 machine guns. According to the ATF and Michigan State
Police Somerville was growing marijuana and stockpiling a .50-caliber
anti-aircraft gun, machine guns, explosive powder, bomb-making materials,
automatic assault weapons and tens of thousands of ammunition rounds on his
40-acre compound in Wexford County, near Traverse City. According to his close
associates, Somerville was filled with rage and plotting to ambush people.
“Somerville intended to kill Michigan State Police officers and had the
machine guns and ammunition to do so,” said Goddard.
“Somerville is a psychologically deranged man who was armed to the teeth,
filled with hate, high on dope and had his finger on the trigger,” said
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lloyd K. Meyer in asking for the maximum punishment of
10 years in prison. “He’s a ticking time bomb.”
U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist increased Somerville’s punishment
under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines based on the number of machine guns
involved and the danger posed by Somerville.
In October 2003, Somerville left his compound and was quietly arrested
unarmed in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Cadillac, Michigan. For the next
two days, law enforcement officers from the ATF and MSP then conducted the
Law enforcement officers found the 40-acre compound just as a confidential
militia source had described. Hidden in a tree line, Somerville had mounted a
maneuverable anti-aircraft gun in a position to command logical fields of fire
and approaches to the property and any airline flight paths in the open sky.
This M2 .50 caliber gun was over five feet long and weighed more than 150
pounds with tripod. It had a maximum range of over 4 miles. Somerville had
tens of thousands of belted ammunition rounds for the gun.
Somerville had several M1919 .30 caliber machineguns, one locked, loaded
and ready to go behind the side door of a mobile panel van and another machine
gun mountable on to a gun turret installed in a Jeep Cherokee where the
passenger seat had been removed. These .30 caliber machine guns were capable
of a sustained rate of 400 to 550 rounds per minute with an effective range of
one-half mile. Somerville had thousands of rounds of belted ammunition for
The keys to what Somerville himself described as his “war wagons” were in
the ignition, ready to go.
Somerville also had considerable stores of food, hundreds of pounds of
gunpowder, grenade hulls, fuses and marijuana cached on his property.
Agents also found photographs of President Bush and Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld with the cross-hairs of a high-powered rifle scope drawn over
Agents also seized numerous books, publications, and documents, including
such military field and technical manuals entitled: Booby Traps, Incendiaries,
Guerrilla Warfare and Special Forces Operation, and Unconventional Warfare
Devices and Techniques.
“ATF’s top mission is reducing violent crime. There is no sporting
purpose for manufacturing or possessing machineguns and destructive devices.
These banned guns are machines designed for only one purpose: to kill people,”
said Goddard. “We will ensure the safety of the community by investigating
and prosecuting those intent on possessing machineguns and explosives” she
Three other men who received machine guns from Somerville have also been
prosecuted by ATF officials and more indictments are expected.
Contact: Donald Dawkins
Web Site: http://www.atf.gov