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Man charged with lying to get guns for New Hope City Hall shooting suspect

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A man accused of buying guns used by the man police say shot and injured two police officers at New Hope City Hall last month is facing federal charges for lying on a background check.

Michael Ronald Garant, 42, of Golden Valley, was charged Wednesday with making a false statement to acquire firearms on behalf of another person.

That person was 68-year-old Raymond Kmetz, who was not allowed to buy a gun because he has a history of mental illness. Police say Kmetz entered New Hope City Hall on Jan. 26 and shot and injured two officers before police fatally shot him. Investigators later recovered two more shotguns from his vehicle.

Garant had been arrested last week in connection to the case, but was then released because of insufficient evidence.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced the charges against Garant Wednesday. According to the criminal complaint, Kmetz was the highest bidder for three shotguns in an online auction on Aug. 21, 2014, but Garant actually bought the firearms for him, reports say.

Garant picked up the firearms at a Princeton, Minnesota, gun shop on Aug. 23, 2014. The charges say he told the gun shop's owner that he used the name "Ray Kmetz" during the auction to hide his true identity and after he passed the necessary background check he answered "yes" on a form saying he was buying the guns for himself, which was not true.

“Background checks are only as good as the accuracy of the information collected,” Luger said in a news release. “Honestly answering questions about the intended recipient of a firearm is an important component of responsible gun ownership and key to public safety, which is why it is a crime to act as a straw purchaser. This defendant is charged with committing that very crime – buying guns for another person and lying about it.”

Garant made his initial court appearance Wednesday and was released on bail.

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