Warrant: ‘I’ll make Virginia Tech look like nothing,’ Norwalk man warned as a child

NORWALK — A 22-year-old college student accused of showing an interest in mass shootings has a long history of threatening behavior and an obsession with guns, according to court records.

Brandon Wagshol has been charged with four felony counts of illegal possession of large-capacity gun magazines, but it was his alleged interest in mass shootings that first caught the attention of local and federal authorities.

A search warrant released Friday documents the Norwalk resident’s alleged interest in mass shootings stretching as far back as November 2008, when local authorities received troubling reports from a Ponus Ridge Middle School administrator.

As a sixth-grader, Wagshol threatened to shoot another student using his father’s guns after the other child’s talking made it hard for him to concentrate, the warrant said.

“I’ll make Virginia Tech look like nothing,” he muttered under his breath, the warrant said, in reference to the Virginia Tech shooting in which 33 people died the previous year. Wagshol’s case was later referred to the state Department of Children and Families.

In 2010, police received calls from people concerned about the contents of Wagshol’s Facebook page, which listed “PLANNING MASS MURDER!!!!” and “IM GENOCIDAL” under his activities and interests, according to the warrant.

When questioned by school administrators, Wagshol said he wasn’t “really” interested in hurting people, except “when he gets mad, he thinks about hurting that particular person,” the warrant said.

Wagshol’s troubles followed him into high school, according to the warrant. In his freshman year, he was expelled from J.M. Wright Technical High School in Stamford after he was caught researching the cost of a handgun on the school’s computer network, the warrant said.

His mother, Joanne Kirson, told police his obsession with weapons stemmed from his childhood when his father, a registered gun owner, would bring him and his brother to look at guns.

In middle school, she told police, Wagshol signed up for so many firearms catalogs that she contacted the company to stop them from being sent, the warrant said.

“Kirson told the representative from the company that if her son were to commit a school shooting, the blood would be on the company’s hands,” the warrant said.

But Wagshol remained mostly under the radar until the FBI received a tip on Aug. 6 from one of his family members who claimed she received a “suspicious and alarming” call from him in July, the warrant said. The family member said she hadn’t heard from Wagshol in more than a decade.

During the conversation, the warrant said, Wagshol asked if he could have a few 30-round magazines shipped to her New Hampshire house, since they were banned in Connecticut.

When she tried to question Wagshol about the purchase, the warrant said, he hung up. She tried calling back, but the number was no longer in service, according to the warrant.

The family member told the FBI that Wagshol exhibited disobedient behavior since kindergarten, the warrant said. His “scary off” behavior got so bad, she said, that they stopped holding Thanksgiving gatherings and didn’t invite Wagshol to his cousin’s wedding, the warrant said.

When FBI agents later showed up on his mother’s doorstep, she admitted that she “was not surprised,” according to the warrant. She told police her son had so many run-ins with police that “they all started to blend in together.”

When asked if she believed her son was capable of carrying out a mass shooting, the warrant said, she responded, “No parent likes to say that about their child.”

“However, she did not say ‘no,’” the warrant said.

Wagshol was one of three people arrested over a weeklong span for allegedly expressing interest in or threatening to carry out mass shootings. The string of arrests came nearly two weeks after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, where more than 30 people died.

Local experts who examined Wagshol’s social media posts following his Aug. 14 arrest said there were signs of “self-radicalization.”

In a raid of the Bedford Avenue apartment Wagshol shared with his father, police said they seized a .40 caliber handgun, a .22 caliber rifle, a rifle scope with a laser, four firearm optic sites, a firearm flashlight, body armor with a titanium plate, a full camouflage outfit, a ballistic helmet, tactical gloves, a camouflage bag, computers, and numerous .40 caliber, .22 caliber and .300 blackout rounds of ammunition.

The large-capacity gun magazines were purchased legally at a Bass Pro Shops in New Hampshire.

In his witness statement, Wagshol, a graduate of Brien McMahon High School and Norwalk Community College, said he drove to New Hampshire to “acquire 30-round magazines and ammunition to circumvent what I viewed as an unconstitutional restriction on the Second Amendment.”

Connecticut law defines a “large-capacity magazine” as one that accepts more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Transporting large-capacity magazines into the state is a felony. New Hampshire does not have magazine restrictions.

Wagshol’s defense attorney Darnell Crosland said his client purchased the weapons in an attempt to get closer to his father, an avid gun owner.

Wagshol, who has been suspended and temporarily banned from Central Connecticut State University where he had been a student, remains jailed at the Bridgeport Correctional Facility in lieu of $250,000 bond. Crosland said he expects his client to post bond at his next court hearing on Sept. 6.