When 27-year-old Isaac Loftus was arrested near a South L.A. high school, he was wearing tactical gear, carrying multiple knives and heavy-duty zip ties, and packing a loaded ghost gun, which he’d reportedly pointed at vehicles driving by.
But it was what police found after they detained Loftus on Nov. 22, 2022, that ultimately landed him in prison. At a Pasadena home he rented and in a stolen car that he’d crashed near the high school, law enforcement officials recovered an arsenal with more illegal guns and ammunition, along with silencers and dozens of 3D-printed devices capable of turning common firearms into fully-automatic machine guns.
Loftus was sentenced Friday to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of machine guns. Loftus has been jailed since his arrest, and he appeared in court in a white smock and shackles, which Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong ordered removed during the hearing.
Prosecutors said that when Loftus was arrested near Thomas Jefferson High School, he was carrying a holster that bore markings associated with the “boogaloos,” an anti-government extremist movement that seeks a second civil war in the United States. At his home, detectives found more boogaloo iconography and items associated with extremism: Hawaiian-style shirts and various patches bearing symbols and mottos, including “Three Percenter” and “Liberty or Death.”
There is no indication that Loftus had planned a school shooting, but court records show there were obvious warning signs about his behavior.
Loftus’ defense attorney, Lillian Chu, and Assistant U.S. Atty. Kathrynne Nicole Seiden told the judge that Loftus has a long history of mental health issues, which barred him from legally possessing guns. Both declined to comment on the case after the hearing.
Chu argued that Loftus was experiencing paranoid delusions before his arrest. According to a recent diagnosis by a psychiatrist that was mentioned in court, Loftus is schizophrenic.
Seiden, the prosecutor, noted that Loftus had held a regular job and was a “good tenant,” indications he was aware of his actions and their consequences.
On the day of his arrest, Loftus looked as though he had been in a fight. He had fresh injuries on his knuckles and hands, court records said. When LAPD officers approached him, he tried to walk away and hopped a fence. When they asked him to identify himself, he said he was “Yahweh” (Hebrew for God) and that he was “treated like s— by humanity,” according to court documents.
The police found a set of car keys on Loftus, and he said they belonged to a vehicle he’d taken from a dealership, which he claimed to own. The car, a Honda Clarity, was found crashed and abandoned five blocks away. Loftus told the authorities he believed he was being “chased by officers for thirty days over hundreds of miles.”
Loftus told the LAPD officers they would be “dead” if they continued to question him. After he was moved to the jail, Loftus remarked that “judgment day has been delayed.”
Loftus’ aunt, who also served as his adoptive mother, told authorities he knew he was not permitted to own firearms because of his mental health problems. According to court records, he was held several times at hospitals or mental health facilities for evaluation or treatment.
Yet he was still able to acquire weapons parts online, prosecutors said, citing evidence that he’d used an email address that included the words “deathbeforedishonor” when making the purchases.
Loftus’ aunt also said he owned a 3D printer, and court records say he had downloaded files to print gun parts. Such home-assembled weapons are known as “ghost guns” because they do not have serial numbers, making them difficult for law enforcement to trace.
Court records show Loftus had printed at least 55 devices that convert Glock pistols into hand-held machine guns, and also had three dozen “drop in auto sears,” which enable a common semi-automatic rifle such as the AR-15 to fire like a machine gun. Loftus also had an illegal short-barreled rifle that bore no serial number, along with high-capacity magazines and other gun accessories.
Court documents revealed that a family member told law enforcement that Loftus had delved into conspiracy theories and has a history of drug use and unpredictable, paranoid behavior.
Loftus said in a statement to the court Friday that he wanted mental health treatment and had asked the prison warden and other officials for medications and to be put in a mental health unit, which he alleged were not given to him.
Loftus said he experienced a “full blown schizophrenic episode” which made him leave “a life I had built hard.”
After finishing his prison sentence, Loftus will be subject to three years of supervised release, during which he’s not allowed to interact or engage with affiliates of the boogaloo and Three Percenters groups.
Loftus initially faced five federal charges for illegal possession of firearms and silencers, but prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges in a plea agreement signed last August.