BURRILLVILLE, R.I. — An occasional host of a local far-right YouTube talk show and failed Republican candidate for a House seat is accused by federal authorities of illegally stockpiling more than 200 firearms and “pounds” of ammunition at his home in Burrillville.
Ronald Armand Andruchuk, 37, was arrested Thursday night after police were called about gunfire at his house at 1746 Tarkiln Road. Once there, police found drugs and an unsecured arsenal of guns both inside and outside his half-million-dollar home.
Andruchuk was armed, wearing a bulletproof vest, and appeared to be under the influence of drugs when he met police on his property, Assistant US Attorney Sandra Hebert said during a remote hearing Friday before US Magistrate Justice Patricia Sullivan. Police said they heard Andruchuk changing a gun magazine before he came out, she said. His wife was on the premises with their 10-year-old child and five-year-old twins.
“This is an escalating and terrifying situation, for the neighborhood, his family and police officers who have to go out for shots fired [calls],” Hebert said.
Police eventually found 211 guns on the property.
Andruchuk, who does not have a gun dealer license, is charged by federal authorities with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, because of his alleged drug use; making false statements to purchase firearms; and causing false records to be kept by licensed firearms dealers.
Burrillville police are also lodging a misdemeanor charge of firing in a compact area. Authorities in Massachusetts are also looking at charging Andruchuk for allegedly stashing two handguns and flashlights containing cocaine, oxycodone, and amphetemines in the ceiling of a men’s bathroom at the Tractor Supply Company in Milbury, Massachusetts, in December. A State Trooper happened to be parked outside at the time. Andruchuck does not have a license to carry in Massachusetts.
Andruchuk had been charged with drug crimes in 2019, when police said he had oxycodone and admitted to having a drug problem. Andruchuk received a deferred sentence, which was later expunged. He’d been treated for mental health issues, according to an affidavit supporting a search warrant, and his family had called police about his wellbeing in May 2021, when they were still living in Cranston.
Two months later, Andruchuk went on a gun-buying spree, authorities said. An agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said in an affidavit that Andruchuk bought 169 firearms from multiple licensed dealers between July and November 2021, telling each one that he’d made a profit from cryptocurrency and now wanted to collect firearms.
Hebert said it’s unclear where the money was coming from, or how he was able to purchase his nearly $500,000 home in Burrillville outright.
After the family moved in last year, the neighbors started reporting bullets whizzing across their property.
Thursday was the ninth time that Burrillville police had been called about gunfire; they’d warned Andruchuk before about firing guns on his property, Hebert said.
The officers heard multiple gun shots as they stood in a neighbor’s driveway and saw rounds crashing through tree branches about four feet over their heads, according to the affidavit. Andruchuk told them that he was teaching his wife how to shoot.
The officers arrested him, seized four guns and methamphetamine from him, and then returned with a search warrant.
Andruchuk had far more firearms than they’d expected, Hebert said. There were at least 211 firearms, including 115 handguns, worth about $100,000, she said. “Pounds and pounds” of ammunition were strewn all throughout the house. Most of the firearms were not properly stored or secured.
“There were firearms in the kitchen cabinet, in a wall clock, on the floor, hidden in a book on a bookshelf, firearms in the bathroom, in a bedroom, on tables, in drawers, in closets, the basement, and even one left lying in the yard,” Hebert said. “There’s no way to know if they located all the firearms, especially with the lengths he goes to hide them.”
The only place that didn’t have guns was the children’s bedroom, she said.
Law enforcement had searched Andruchuk’s trash last month and found discarded ammunition boxes, firearms boxes, and traces of amphetamine, according to the affidavit.
“For us this is a very dangerous situation, and all evidence points to a crisis averted,” Hebert said, “but your honor can’t have confidence that all firearms (are recovered).”
Hebert urged the judge to hold Andruchuk without bail, saying she couldn’t be sure that he wouldn’t buy more guns — especially since he claimed to have another $20,000 in bitcoin left.
Federal public defender Kevin Fitzgerald said that the crisis had been averted because authorities had taken all of Andruchuk’s firearms, so he should be released. He wasn’t a flight risk, and he wanted to be with his family, Fitzgerald said.
“In this country, it’s not illegal to have 200 guns and pounds of ammunition,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not something we see every day. I would say it’s unusual. I would say the way they were stored is irresponsible. But unfortunately, you can be an irresponsible gun owner and that’s not a federal crime.”
Andruchuk had a right to buy the guns, Fitzgerald argued, and making a false statement on a gun purchase — where Andruchuk denied using drugs — “isn’t as dangerous as someone who is selling them on the street.”
Even after hearing the allegations, US Magistrate Justice Patricia Sullivan at first ordered Andruchuk’s release, with conditions that he submit to mental health and substance abuse counseling, wear a GPS bracelet that will alarm if he goes to a gun store or other prohibited zones, and not get arrested again.
“We will find out pretty quickly if defendant is capable of controlling himself and has respect for the law,” she said.
However, the judge agreed to stay Andruchuk’s release until 4 p.m. on Monday after Hebert urgently requested time to file an appeal.
“I cringe to think what people in the neighborhood will think if he is coming back home,” Hebert said. “I feel strongly about this case. ... I am afraid for the safety of the community, and I am afraid for the family.”
The judge agreed to Hebert’s request that Andruchuk to have no contact with his neighbors or the tractor supply store.
Andruchuk had attempted to run as a Republican candidate for the Cranston District 14 seat held by incumbent Charlene Lima in 2018. According to a Facebook post, his platform was “oppose government censorship, pro life, medical freedom, religious freedom, family values, and military preparedness.” On his public campaign page, he notes that his profile picture was taken at the Trump Tower in New York.
A Trump Meme I made. I call it Trump Versus Army of Darkness. It represents and celebrates Trumps ability to maintain his sanity while fighting against the New World Order and Deep State Cabal.... pic.twitter.com/4Ds6si4GCL— RonaldArmandAndruchuk (@Ronnie_Armand) October 21, 2020
But Andruchuk was swiftly knocked out of the race when signatures on his nominating papers were disqualified. He ran anyway as a write-in candidate, though filings show he raised no money.
He stood out as a psychology student at Rhode Island College a little over a decade ago, when he was using a hearse to get to school and drive his band members in the “Graveside Service Musical Group,” according to the campus newspaper.
In 2018, Andruchuk was using a black SUV outfitted with white strobe lights, which attracted the attention of police when they saw other vehicles pull over as he sped past them on his way to Central High School, according to the affidavit. He had a medical marijuana card and marijuana in the vehicle, along with a two-way radio, an asp, handcuffs, and pepper spray, which he explained was for his part-time job as a security guard. Although he told police he was a physics teacher at the high school, a resource officer said Andruchuk was employed as a mentor for students.
He has been on the Truth Radio Show, a local YouTube channel that’s hosted by a former InfoWars correspondent Dan Bidondi, which deals in conspiracy theories and gun rights.
His social media posts show he’s an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, shared posts saying the 2020 election was stolen, and shared videos of doomsday preparation. For his wife’s birthday, Andruchuk got Roger Stone to give her a shout-out through the Cameo site. Stone thanked the family for their support during his “horrific ordeal with the Deep State.”
At the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls while waiting for Friday’s hearing to start, with his wife watching from her remote connection, Andruchuk spoke once. “I miss my kids,” he said.
Amanda Milkovits can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.