KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The man credited with blowing open an investigation into a Kansas City, Missouri firefighter now accused of selling guns to felons shared his story with FOX4. Charlie Rice explained why he decided to call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms when he became suspicious of what he thought was really happening.
Police say former KCFD firefighter James Samuels had a side job as a gun trafficker, and it was a responsible gun store owner who tipped them off.
"I had a little role in it," Rice told FOX4's Shannon O'Brien.
He called the ATF about Samuels' suspicious activity and that started the ball rolling.
"I have people that are basically gun collectors and they might get a number of different models of older Smith and Wesson's or something like that," Rice explained.
"These are not something you would collect. It's more something that somebody might want on the street, a throwaway type gun. And so that raised red flags."
Rice said he cut Samuels off.
"And I said something to him about it that, look, you can't be dealing in firearms without a license. You're going to get yourself in trouble. And I'm not going to get myself in trouble. We're going to quit doing the transfers," he recounted.
Court records show Samuels purchased a total of 77 guns from Rice's store, C.R. Sales & Firearms, and multiple other places. Samuels, who does not have a federal license to legally sell firearms, sold 47 of them, six of which were involved in crimes.
One of Samuels' trafficked guns was allegedly used by a felon to murder Alvino Crawford three years ago. Police say Samuels knew his guns were ending up in the wrong hands.
"He could still be out there selling firearms. It's really sad that he would actually put himself in a position like that. Life's too precious and too short," Rice said.
He says Samuels is not the first person he has been concerned about and has refused to sell guns to multiple people he believed may be involved in illegal activity.
"It's the responsibility of the store and the employees of the store to make sure things like that don't happen. It helps maintain our second amendment rights," Rice said.
Samuels has not only been criminally charged in federal court, but is also being sued by the Crawford family. Shannon O'Brien, FOX4News."
The Crawfords told FOX4 in a previous interview that they hope their lawsuit will set a precedent and help change gun shield laws. Those laws protect manufacturers who in many states cannot be held criminally liable for crimes in which their guns are used.