Crime Watch 8

Fishers man, a Syrian national, cleared of federal firearms charges

(WISH Photo, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Fishers man has been cleared of several charges after officials said he attempted to unlawfully purchase several firearms and lied on federal forms in attempting to purchase another.

U.S. District Court Judge James R. Sweeney II ruled Tuesday that 25-year-old Majd Al Helwani, a Syrian national living in the United States on a immigration visa, was not guilty of three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and a count of false statements in connection with acquisition of firearms.

Helwani’s attorney, Ralph L. Tambasco, said his client had believed he could legally purchase the firearms after Indiana State Police issued him a lifetime gun license.

On the form for the license, Helwani said he was a Syrian national but had also said he was an Indiana resident. State police did not catch the contradiction before issuing a lifetime gun license to Helwani.

Helwani wanted to buy a gun to use at a shooting range, which was the only place he used the guns, Tambasco said. Helwani had commonly rented guns to use at a gun range, court documents showed.

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Police began investigating Helwani in December 2017 when they said he was in possession of at least one firearm, an AR-15 style rifle. The U.S. attorney in a July 2018 news release said it was later determined that Helwani was admitted into the United States as a non-immigrant tourist and could not possess firearms. After obtaining a search warrant for his home, the release said, investigators found Helwani to be in the possession of two guns: the .223 caliber rifle, and a loaded 9-millimeter handgun that he answered the door with.

Judge Sweeney said in his finding that the federal law was not clear about whether Helwani’s immigration status prohibited him from getting a firearms license.