Savage man who glorified mass shooters gets more than 6 years for machine gun possession

A Savage man who sympathized with mass shooters and prepared for a violent clash with police was sentenced on Monday for federal weapons violations.

Court documents show Judge David S. Doty ordered 21-year-old River William Smith to serve more than six years (80 months), followed by three years of supervised release.

Smith pleaded guilty on May 16 to one count of possession of a machine gun. Prosecutors had also charged him with attempting to receive and possess unregistered destructive devices, but that count was dismissed.

According to a criminal complaint, Smith contacted an FBI informant in November 2022 and arranged to purchase three auto sears — devices that convert semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic weapons. He was arrested the next month after he met up with the informant again to buy three hand grenades.

Law enforcement first started investigating Smith after receiving tips that Smith was wearing body armor and practicing rapid shooting drills at a gun range. Smith told a confidential source he was preparing for a fight with police and was “dedicated to dying” in the confrontation, the complaint states.

Smith had also told a separate FBI informant about his militant ideology.

In a text conversation with the FBI source, Smith — who had multiple guns taken from him when he was 17 after he accidentally shot his grandmother with an AK-47-style rifle — said he “would open fire” if authorities ever tried to seize his guns.

Smith communicated that he is “pro mass shooting in general” and that he sided with the perpetrators of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and the Colorado Springs Club Q shooting.

The complaint also says Smith told the informant he had thought about joining a neo-Nazi terrorist group called “The Base.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The Base believes society should be pushed to collapse so a white ethnostate can arise out of the ruins.”

The FBI and Savage Police Department investigated the case.