Herschi Perry Excell, 23, of Vista, California, United States and three others have been charged with trafficking in illegal firearms and ammunition. He works as a part-time electrician.
The other three are Gordon H. Dawson, 50, of El Cajon, California, William “Bill” Lee Schmeck, 27, of Santee, California and Peter Michael Scherer, 23, of Alpine, 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 Excell, Scherer, Dawson, Schmeck and the fifth suspect.
The agents found flares, grenade launchers, plastic explosives, rifles and shotguns that were all for sale. In particular, a grenade launcher, two sawed-off shotguns, four automatic weapons, four blocks of plastic explosives and miscellaneous parts were found at Excell’s house in Vista.
Excell was armed with a fully loaded 9-millimeter pistol when he was arrested in the parking lot of a restaurant in Del Mar, California. He was charged with three felony firearm counts.
On April 16, 1991, Excell, Scherer, Dawson and Schmeck pleaded not guilty at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Barry Ted Moskowitz. Bail was set at $100,000 for Excell.