Was “Bob Smith” a super-spy or super-fantasist? That was the question many in Los Angeles are trying to answer after the puzzling death of man who kept a hoard of more than 1,200 firearms and two tons of ammunition at home.
The man, who is yet to be formally identified, was found dead in his SUV not far from the house in LA’s affluent Pacific Palisades neighbourhood, where his body was believed to have been for two weeks before police were alerted.
The man’s real identity remains unconfirmed. Reportedly known to his neighbours as “Bob Smith”, he supposedly convinced his fiancée that he worked as an undercover agent for a shadowy government organisation linked to the CIA. The precise cause of death has not been officially determined, but the authorities said there were no obvious signs of foul play and the case was not being treated as a homicide.
To police, the most surprising element of the case was the sheer number of handguns, rifles and shotguns stashed in the man’s house and garage, Los Angeles Police Department Commander Andrew Smith told The Los Angeles Times.
There was no evidence that “Bob” was involved in any criminal activity, and police said it was not a crime to have so many weapons at home if they were legally acquired.
Equally curious are the circumstances surrounding the man’s death and the discovery of his body. According to Harland Braun, a criminal defence lawyer acting for his fiancée, Catherine Nebron, she was the person who contacted the authorities to alert them to his death and his weapons cache.
On 4 July, the US national Independence Day holiday, the couple and two friends were in a supermarket car park in nearby Santa Monica when “Bob”, who was suffering from cancer, became poorly. He complained of feeling hot, so his friends attempted to cool him down with ice, but he died shortly afterwards. Bob had assured Ms Nebron that the unnamed spy agency would deal with his body, Mr Braun said, so she left it in the car, parked near the house, and left for a trip to Oregon. When she returned, she was shocked to find the car and his body still in the same place. She then contacted Mr Braun, who informed the police.
“Even after the police removed all those guns and ammunition, the place is still loaded with tools, scopes, books, all kinds of craziness,” Mr Braun told the Independent. “He told the neighbours he was a CIA agent. He certainly convinced his fiancée, my client, that he was a CIA agent. But I don’t think so.”