Queens brothers indicted for illegally possessing weapons including homemade IEDs and AR-15s

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By Dan Sears

The Queens District Attorney’s Office announced an indictment Monday against two brothers after investigators found a stash of improvised explosive devices, homemade guns and other weapons in their Astoria apartment, along with what prosecutors called “anarchist propaganda” and a handwritten “hit list” targeting law enforcement, celebrities and others.

Andrew Hatziagelis, 31, and his brother Angelo, 51, were taken into custody Jan. 17 after police executed a search warrant at their home on 36th Avenue in Astoria and discovered the weapons stockpile, according to DA Melinda Katz.

If convicted, Andrew and Angelo each face up to 25 years in prison. The indictment charges them with 130 counts of criminal weapons possession and other related violations.

Queens prosecutors alleged the brothers amassed two AR-15-style homemade assault rifles, multiple 3D-printed pistols, more than 600 rounds of ammunition, tools to assemble DIY guns — also known as “ghost guns” — three sets of body armor, 29 high-capacity magazines, and instructions for making explosives.

Katz said police also seized eight operational homemade bombs and an unfinished trip-wire explosive device constructed in an empty can of Mott’s apple juice.

“Today, we start 2024 with New York City being safer because of the constant vigilant stance to find these weapons,” Katz said at a press conference. “When one is willing to manufacture illegal weapons, there is no limit to what they can do and what they can create.”

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Andrew’s listed attorney, Naira Grigoryan of the nonprofit legal services group Queens Defenders, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Angelo’s listed attorney, Alisha Babar of the Legal Aid Society, another public defender group, declined to comment.

At the brothers’ home, investigators discovered various “anti-government” manifestos they allegedly wrote, according to the DA’s office.

One document entitled “Order of the Misanthropic Few” demanded that animals and nature be respected but said human sacrifices were permitted “only for the corrupt souls — rapists, pedophiles, murderers, politicians, judges.”

Another document entitled “Hit List” included scrawled references to “corporate scum,” “banker scum,” cops, judges, politicians and celebrities — though it did not name specific people.

Katz said the brothers did not appear to be part of a larger terrorist group, but added that her office was still investigating.

Among the seized items was a small handheld radio that prosecutors said the brothers used to listen to transmissions from the 114th police precinct.

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Rebecca Weiner, deputy commissioner of the NYPD’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau, said the kind of case prosecutors are bringing against the brothers has become “all too familiar” as ghost guns and anti-government conspiracy theories proliferate.

The NYPD seized more than 400 ghost guns from 2020 to 2021 and more than 800 from 2022 to 2023, Weiner said, noting police seized 10 times more 3D printers last year than the year before. “We expect that to continue,” she said.

Among the five boroughs, Queens leads the city in the number of ghost guns recovered since 2021, according to Katz. While she would not specify how her office was tipped off about Hatziagelis brother’ alleged activity, she said detectives carefully scrutinize online internet purchases that could be related to weapons components.

Katz said neither of the defendants had an extensive criminal past, with Angelo having one prior misdemeanor conviction in 1994.

They lived in an apartment complex directly across from the Con Edison power plant in Astoria and shared the home with their mother and another brother, according to prosecutors. The other family members will not be facing charges, said Katz.

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“I believe preventative law enforcement is the reason that these weapons will never be used, and we will continue to do it and try to effectively find these weapons before they are used in New York City,” she said. “Anytime you find this amount of weaponry, it makes me very concerned and should make people concerned.”

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