Federal prosecutors have charged Peter Michael Scherer, 23, of Alpine, California, United States and three others with trafficking in illegal firearms and ammunition. He is a student at San Diego State University in San Diego, California.
The other three are Gordon H. Dawson, 50, of El Cajon, California, William “Bill” Lee Schmeck, 27, of Santee, California and Herschi Perry Excell, 23, of Vista, California. There is a fifth suspect, a U.S. Marine Corps member currently in Okinawa, Japan, and his name has yet to be released.
In 1990, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Naval Investigative Service and the San Diego Sheriff’s Office started to run an undercover investigation. On April 15, 1991, federal agents with search warrants seized a virtual arsenal that allegedly belonged to Scherer, Dawson, Schmeck, Excell and the fifth suspect.
The agents found flares, grenade launchers, plastic explosives, rifles and shotguns that were all for sale. In particular, ammunition, flares, grenades, two sawed-off shotguns and four assault rifles were found in Scherer’s house in Alpine.
On April 16, 1991, Scherer, Dawson, Schmeck and Excell pleaded not guilty at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Barry Ted Moskowitz. Bail was set at $200,000 for Scherer, who was charged with 12 felony firearm counts.