Federal agents last week arrested a United Arab Emirates man who was in the country illegally, after they found him “holed up in a hotel room” in Melbourne, Florida, with 28 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
According to police, Hamid Mohamed Ahmed Ali Rehaif didn’t have firearms when he was arrested, but he admitted to agents that he bought and later sold three guns. Agents also say that Rehaif at one point owned ten cell phones. Most had been pawned off to local shops, but two were still in his possession.
Rehaif remains in federal custody and he is being held at the John E Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford.
He is charged with “possession of ammunition by an unlawful or illegal alien,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District Florida.
Rehaif was admitted into this country in 2013 on a student visa, and enrolled at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne as a mechanical engineering major that fall.
School officials say he was “academically dismissed” at the end of the fall 2014 term.
“Shortly thereafter, per university procedure and federal protocol, the university reported to authorities that Rehaif was no longer a student at the university,” FIT school spokesman Adam Lowenstein said Thursday.
When Rehaif failed to leave the country within 30 days of dismissal from school, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office statement, he became an “unlawful alien.”
On Tuesday, the Melbourne Police Department reported suspicious activity at the Hilton Rialto.
Police had learned that Rehaif had been staying at the hotel for 53 nights — checking out every morning and checking back into a different room every night.
According to the complaint, Rehaif spent more than $11,000 in cash on room fees.
Rehaif recently claimed he had weapons in his room, according to the complaint, and had given a hotel employee three rounds of .380 caliber ammunition and a round of .45 caliber ammunition for unknown reasons.
When agents searched his hotel room, they retrieved a box of 9mm ammunition inside a black bag. The box had 28 rounds of ammunition, according to the complaint.
Rehaif stated that he and his friends went to a couple of gun ranges to shoot, but he had no explanation for the ten cell phones when asked.
A federal judge in Orlando said on Monday that there’s enough evidence to move forward with a trial against Rehaif, but the judge had some detractors.
Via News 13:
Three women who say they’re related to Rehaif, who would not give their name, said he is far from dangerous.
“He’s a teddy bear. A huggable teddy bear,” said one of the women, who questioned the timing of Rehaif’s arrest and thinks the recent attack in San Bernardino, Calif. played a role in his arrest.
“What is happening to him is very unjust and we feel like he is being targeted because of his race,” another woman said. “All we want the public to know is that he has a lot friends and family that are in full support of him, and we will continue to support him until this all is completed.”
A Department of Homeland Security agent said during the hearing that they haven’t found any ties to radical Islamist groups, but that the investigation is still ongoing.