This story was updated at 3 p.m., Oct. 21, 2013.
When police arrested a Gaithersburg man, his son, and four others in North Potomac on drug and firearm charges earlier this month, they alleged they had plenty of evidence: more than 600 Instagram photos of drugs and weapons.
Police report in charging documents that the arrests came after learning of a “problem house” which was the site of frequent parties, and where teens bought drugs from Ethan Gettier, the 16-year-old son of the home’s owner, Darel Gettier. Both Gettiers were arrested on Oct. 11, along with 18-year-olds Anand M. Javeri, Khaliq R. Thomas, and Devon Rubenstein and 20-year-old Connor Fellows. Javeri, Thomas and Rubenstein live in Germantown, and Fellows lives in Gaithersburg.
According to his charging documents, police had believed that Ethan Gettier, a Quince Orchard High School student, was selling drugs to high school students from his home during school hours, with tacit permission from his father. Just after the arrests, police searched the Gettiers’ home which police say smelled of marijuana and contained items used to consume the drug “in plain view” in Ethan’s room, along with a .22 handgun.
“There is no way” that Darel Gettier did not know his son and friends were smoking marijuana in house, an officer wrote in Darel Gettier’s charging documents.
But Howard Cheris, who represents Gettier, said that assumption was “overbroad” and “speculative.”
Cheris said his client isn’t guilty of any of the charges, adding that Gettier legitimately owned the guns that police recovered in his house.
When asked why Gettier had so many guns, Cheris said, “He’s an NRA member, and because he’s allowed to.”
After learning of the photos that Ethan Gettier had posted to his Instagram — a social photo-sharing platform — and Facebook pages, police spent weeks surveilling Gettier’s house, watching teen drivers pull into the house’s driveway, stay for a few minutes, and drive away: typical behavior, they said, of a drug buy.
On Oct. 11, police watched one such car pull away from the house, and found Javeri and Thomas inside, along with some marijuana. Police arrested the two after learning the two had just sold Ethan Gettier marijuana, according to Javeri’s charging documents.
When police and a SWAT team arrived at the Gettier home to serve Gettier with a search warrant, they found him armed with two handguns, according to a press release about the arrest.
Police found seven people inside smoking marijuana, and after searching the house, 45 guns. Among them was an M-16 that Ethan Gettier had posted to his Instagram account “DatLife420,” according to his arresting documents. He had also posted photos of Tupperware full of marijuana and other firearms.
Steven Kupferberg, who represents Ethan Gettier, said he had only recently become Gettier’s attorney and could not yet speak about the case in detail. He said that considering Gettier was only 16 and did not have a criminal record, he believed Gettier had been over-charged.
Fellows was arrested in a traffic stop shortly after he left the Gettier home.
Reached by phone at his home on Monday, Darel Gettier said, “It’s all being blown out of proportion,” and referred questions to Cheris, his lawyer.
As part of the ongoing investigation, a second search warrant was issued at Thomas’ home on Cottage Garden Drive in Germantown. Police found six bags of marijuana there, baggies, and scales, according to his charging documents.
Police charged Ethan Gettier, Javeri and Thomas with possession or distribution charges. Darel Gettier was charged with allowing a minor to have access to a handgun and other charges. Rubenstein and Fellows received criminal citations for possessing marijuana.
All six suspects were released on bail. Attorney information for Javeri and Thomas was not listed online.