Agencies buying from local riflemaker say they were unaware of owner’s history of threats, violence against SAPD officers
Sons of Liberty Gun Works co-owner Mike Mihalski: ‘Regrettably, I said and did those things.’
SAN ANTONIO – Months after several San Antonio law enforcement officers expressed concerns about their agencies being associated, Mike Mihalski, the co-owner of Sons of Liberty Gun Works, has admitted to a past history of physically clashing with and threatening San Antonio Police Department officers.
Mihalski, who earlier this year acknowledged being a 35 percent owner of the South Side customized rifle manufacturer, frequently appears in social media posts for the company, which has more than 82,000 followers on Instagram alone.
Invoices obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders show that San Antonio-area law enforcement agencies have spent close to $100,000 with SOLGW on weapons and weapon parts over the past few years.
The chief of one of the departments who purchased rifles from Mihalski’s company said his agency would have gone in a different direction had they known about his criminal history.
Encounters with SAPD
In November 2007, San Antonio police responded to a home in the 900 block of W. Summit after receiving an emergency call for a son tearing up the house, public records show.
On scene, Mihalski’s mother told officers her son was destroying furniture and to be careful because he may reach for their guns.
Inside the home, officers found Mihalski not wearing a shirt and shoes with disheveled hair and bloodshot and glassy eyes, yelling at another person, records show.
According to his arrest report, Mihalski looked at his mother and said he just wanted to run his fist through her mouth and see her brains, that she should, "take a very large caliber gun and blow her head off.”
The report goes on to state that Mihalski said he was feeling “twitchy,” like he wanted to hurt his mother.
Officers noted an injury to the woman’s nose, that her glasses had been broken and that she had skin torn off from three or four different places on her arm.
Mihalski was then taken into custody on charges of family violence and making a terroristic threat against a family member, court records show.
Mihalski told officers that booked him that he hoped his mother, “gets killed by the devil himself, then burns in hell as a shishkabob with bell peppers on a stick.”
Court records show both misdemeanor charges against Mihalski were dismissed in May 2009 after his mother quit cooperating with the investigation.
Three months earlier, in February 2009, Mihalski was arrested on a charge of abusive calls to 911, records show.
Officers responded to an apartment on N. New Braunfels after Mihalski was accused of continuously calling 911 and threatening to do harm to police officers, according to his arrest report.
Mihalski used “vulgar profanity” during calls with three different female police dispatchers and referred to the ‘Denny’s shooting,’ the January 2003 incident in which four SAPD officers were injured, two of them critically, and the suspect was killed during a shootout inside a Northeast Side Denny’s restaurant.
The three misdemeanor counts against Mihalski were dismissed in late November 2009, after he took a plea deal in an unrelated DWI case, court records show.
Months later, in February 2010, Mihalski was again taken into custody by SAPD, according to public records.
During this incident, officers were attempting to take Mihalski into custody outside a downtown wine bar for public intoxication when he began resisting.
Mihalski was accused of using an expletive and a homophobic slur to refer to one officer before saying that he himself had killed Sergeant Bocko, an apparent reference to late SAPD officer John Bocko.
Bocko, then the rank of detective, was one of the four officers injured in the Denny’s shooting.
He was subsequently killed in an off-duty motorcycle crash in 2007, SAPD officials confirmed.
Records show Mihalski repeatedly referenced the Denny’s shooting, at one point stating, “My buddy killed all you mother(expletive).”
“Now Bocco’s in the ground, mother(expletive) six-feet under,” Mihalski is quoted as saying in the arrest report.
Mihalski then lunged headfirst at one officer and violently kicked his feet at multiple officers while yelling that he had killed officers himself, the report states.
Mihalski was later charged with resisting arrest and stated that he would return to kill the officers, the report states.
He pleaded no contest to the charge in November 2010 and was sentenced to serve two days in jail, plus pay for court costs and a fine, court records show.
Public records confirm a connection between Mihalski and the Denny’s shooting suspect, convicted felon Jamie Lichtenwalter.
A San Antonio Express-News article written after Lichtenwalter’s death includes a quote from Mihalski’s mother, calling the deceased suspect a “wonderful, reliable and dependable employee” who had previously worked for her delivering medical records.
Pressed about his relationship with Lichtenwalter, Mihalski confirmed via email last month that Lichtenwalter had worked for his mother’s company.
“I knew Lichtenwalter for six or seven months in my early 20s. We were friendly. He briefly worked for my mother’s company. I liked James, but, what he did was a shock to us all. I heard about it on the news,” wrote Mihalski.
Connections to area law enforcement
A Facebook post from the San Antonio Police Department in November 2017 shows SAPD Officer Julio Cavazos receiving a rifle from Sons of Liberty Gun Works.
Cavazos was critically injured and his partner Officer Miguel Moreno was killed in a shootout with a suspect months earlier near downtown.
Mihalski appears in several of the pictures from the ceremony, along with SAPD Chief William McManus.
Additionally, SAPD records show Mihalski donated more than $2,200 last August to its SWAT team to pay for travel, accommodations and entry for an out-of-town event.
Sons of Liberty’s website lists SAPD as one of its satisfied clients from an armorers training course.
The Defenders could find no record of SAPD actually purchasing weapons or weapon parts from Sons of Liberty.
When asked by the Defenders if McManus was aware of Mihalski’s comments and actions toward SAPD officers and dispatchers, a department spokeswoman said via email, “To answer your question – no.”
Invoices show since late 2017, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has purchased more than $47,000 worth of rifles and rifle accessories from Mihalski’s company.
When questioned about the purchases, Sheriff Javier Salazar said, “Heavy weight is given to locally-owned businesses. My understanding that that is a business that dozens of agencies, here locally, but also regionally and other parts of the country, are doing business with them.”
Salazar, himself a retired San Antonio Police officer, said the past incidents involving Mihalski were worth looking into but he did not know if it would prohibit BCSO from doing business with Sons of Liberty in the future.
“It’s not the character that we want to be associated with,” said Castle Hills Police Chief John Siemens, whose agency purchased five weapons from Sons of Liberty. “I can tell you right now, we know something like that about you, we’re going the other direction. You bet.”
The interim chief of the Converse Police Department did not respond to a request to be interviewed after officials there acknowledged purchasing 45 weapons from Sons of Liberty since the fall of 2016, totaling more than $45,000.
It took close to two months for officials with Texas A&M University - San Antonio to produce the correct records from its police department.
Those records show its department made a one-time purchase from Sons of Liberty in late 2017.
The school’s vice president for University Advancement & External Relations, Jeanette De Diemar, declined multiple requests to be interviewed for this story but said in a written statement the purchase was to repair a weapon and followed applicable rules.
“I wish I could deny those statements, but I can’t.”
Hours after TAMUSA officials became aware that the Defenders were looking into Mihalski, he reached out via Facebook.
Mihalski agreed several times to take part in an on-camera interview, at one point stating that his media team would also film it, but failed to show up each time.
In February, he again said he wanted to sit down for an interview “to go on record to correct some of the information you have.”
After failing to show up, Mihalski finally released a written statement regarding the SAPD reports:
“Regrettably, I said and did those things. I wish I could deny those statements, but I can’t. Back then, I disliked law enforcement. I don’t think they liked me much either. I had a lot of misdirected anger. One night a San Antonio police officer gave me the benefit of the doubt when I probably didn’t deserve it. He talked to me about personal accountability and the choices we all make... and the consequences of those choices. It was the first time I saw the human side of law enforcement, and it had a profound effect on me. The profundity would be lost if I tried to explain it to you, but I credit that officer with saving my life. To this day I wonder if that officer knows how many thousands of lives that one act of kindness affected. For the last several years I’ve been trying to pay it forward and support the heroes who do that job every chance I get. Publicly and privately we are the strongest supporters of police locally, and we extend those efforts nationally. Whether it’s support for wounded or fallen police officers, relief for illnesses in their families, training, recruiting, equipment, etc... we will always step forward, and I will continue to do this for as long as God allows me. And I’m sincerely proud to do it. My company, SOLGW, makes the most robust duty rifles in the country with the absolute best end user support you’ll find anywhere. We are a very easy choice if the customer understands our performance standards and the level of care we give the end user. I am not prohibited from manufacturing or selling weapons. Nor am I prohibited from being a vendor to any agency. There is no agency that I’m aware of prohibited from buying our product... either through policy or law. Every transaction we’ve ever done has been above board, and we are regulated by the ATF and FBI.”
The statement did not correct any information that the Defenders had gathered on Mihalski the past several months.
At last check, he remains free on bond for DWI-2nd, following his arrest in February 2019.
Court records show it is the fourth time Mihalski has been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Bexar County since 2000.
Federal records confirm Mihalski is licensed to sell firearms and is not prohibited from making weapons.
Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.