Iowa authorities charge Brandon mother, son on mischief, firearms charges

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SIOUX COUNTY, Iowa (KSFY) - A mother and son are now facing charges in Iowa after a couple of shootings led authorities to find 80 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition in their Brandon home.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff's Office, 50-year-old Artis Kattenberg was charged with second degree aiding and abetting criminal mischief, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and reckless use of a firearm.

Her 16-year-old son was charged in juvenile court on second degree criminal mischief and reckless use of a firearm.

Lyon County authorities are also filing these charges against the two.

Kattenberg was first charged with child abuse by South Dakota authorities.

The teenager is accused of shooting at two unoccupied homes in northwest Iowa. That led investigators to their home in Brandon where guns, ammunition and tactical gear were found.

The guns ranged from .22 caliber rifles to fully automatic .50-caliber tactical rifles.

Authorities said the weapons were obtained legally, but investigators were alarmed with Kattenberg's demeanor toward the government and law enforcement, which prompted them to act quickly.

The case is still under investigation.

The homes, one located in Sioux County and the other located in Lyon County, that were shot at belong to elders from a church in Rock Valley, where Kattenberg and her son used to be members.

Affidavits in the case show employees at two businesses in Sioux Falls who sold firearms to the pair noticed something was strange, but never reported it to federal investigators or local law enforcement. They only revealed that Kattenberg and her son told them they were spies, secret agents and had a secret bunker in their basement when they were questioned by federal investigators.

"Those particular words might throw up a caution flag," Ashlee Sherrill, a public information officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) said.

But Sherrill said federal licensees aren't required to report any anomalies to law enforcement.

"What we would recommend to any federal firearms licensee holder is if you feel uneasy about the sale there's nothing that mandates that you have to go through with it," Sherrill said.

But local law enforcement wishes those employees had said something. Multiple law enforcement officers spoke to KSFY News under the condition of anonymity on Thursday, but Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep of the Lyon County Sheriff's Office explained why, on the record.

"This is something that we preach quite a bit if something just don't seem right or your gut is telling you something is wrong, we would rather you call us," Vander Stoep said.

A licensee does not have to tell the ATF about large quantity purchases -- the only requirement is if a person buys more than two handguns.

"There is a multiple sale form that is required by the ATF," Sherrill said.

Copies of that form go to local law enforcement, the seller keeps a copy and a third copy goes to the ATF -- but only for pistols and not for any other type of firearm.

Affidavits show in at least once instance the teen instructed his mother on what to buy and ATF said it asks its federal licensees to go with their gut when deciding whether to go through with a sale like that.

"We call that a 'straw' purchase," Sherrill said. "We would ask them not to make that sale and these are just kind of, common sense things. But there's nothing requiring them from making that sale."

Vander Stoep said Kattenberg's son was just 16-years-old at the time. Not only was it illegal for him to carry a concealed weapon, there's no way he could've had a permit for it.

So investigators are glad other witnesses came forward ...

"I do believe that we were fortunate and we were able to stop something before it happened," Vander Stoep said.

Vander Stoep also explained that anyone at any time can call in anonymous tip and keep their information private, including business owners.

Sherrill said federal firearms licensees can contact ATF with concerns directly and any citizen who has a concern that want to report, can use the "Report It" app the agency has -- available in the App Store for both iPhone and Android devices.