DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Tennessee

For Immediate Release

Monday, March 19, 2018
Donald Q. Cochran
, United States Attorney
Contact: David Boling

Anitioch Man Facing Federal Charges for Making False Statement to Purchase Firearm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – March 19, 2018 – Khari Milak Whitehead, 26, of Antioch, Tennessee, was charged on Friday in a criminal complaint with making a false statement in connection with the attempted purchase of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee. 


Whitehead was arrested Friday morning by ATF and FBI agents and is currently in federal custody.  He will appear before a federal magistrate judge for a preliminary and detention hearing on March 21, 2018, at 11:00 a.m.


According to the criminal complaint, in early 2018, agents received numerous alarming notifications about Whitehead’s behavior and attempts to purchase a firearm from businesses in the middle Tennessee area, after a judicial officer had committed him to a mental institution for an evaluation. 


The complaint outlines incidents recorded in reports by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (“MNPD”), where on July 5, 2013, Whitehead was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a prohibited weapon, after displaying a hand grenade in a crowded downtown nightclub.  The grenade was later found to be inert.  MNPD records also indicated that on November 7, 2017, police went to Whitehead’s residence, where a family member told them that Whitehead was “acting out of control and crazy.”  The family member also told officers that Whitehead had converted to Islam and may have become radicalized and they feared that he might commit a mass murder.  The following day, the family member told officers that Whitehead was watching ISIS propaganda videos on the internet and he stated, “White people are going to end up getting it.”


According to the criminal complaint, on December 7, 2017, a judicial officer in Rutherford County, Tennessee, ordered Whitehead to be committed for a mental evaluation, due to his behavior in researching ISIS and mass shootings and his attempt to purchase a sniper rifle and ammunition from Wal-Mart.  The judicial official in Rutherford County signed another order committing Whitehead for an evaluation on December 19, 2017.


During the course of this investigation, the complaint alleges that Whitehead attempted to purchase a firearm from Wal-Mart on February 22, 2018.  Whitehead was particularly interested in purchasing a semi-automatic rifle that had the capacity to hold a lot of ammunition.  Whitehead submitted the ATF purchase application forms and indicated that he had never been committed to a mental institution.  The purchase was denied based on a background check and denied a second time when Whitehead requested that the background check be resubmitted. 


If convicted, Whitehead faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and the FBI.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Safeeullah is prosecuting the case.


A criminal complaint is merely an accusation.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 


# # #
Nashville Field Division