Arrest of Napa businessman on weapons charges reveals political beliefs

The arrest of a business owner with a huge arsenal is the talk of Napa and a surprise to neighboring businesses.

"This person Ian, he is a Napan, he is one of us," said Maui Oregon, office manager at Silverado Service, across the street from British Auto Repair, which was raided last Friday.

The Napa Sheriff's Department and the bomb squad descended on the business on Action Avenue near downtown. There, they took Ian Benjamin Rogers, 44, owner of British Auto Repair, into custody on a myriad of weapons and explosives charges.

The arrest was shocking.

"My employees saw him getting handcuffed and taken away," said Oregon. "But I've never heard anything bad or off-color about him, he seemed like a cheerful guy."

The Sheriff's Department says it was acting on a tip that Rogers had a cache of firearms.

What they found: more than 50 firearms and some 15,000 rounds of ammunition, plus gun powder and five pipe bombs, at Roger's home and business.

"I was scared when the bomb squad started lighting off explosives and stuff out there," said Alan Partanen, who works at Napa Auto Parts, and was alarmed by Roger's cache of firepower. "I had no idea, no, he was just always a professional, and we sent parts over to him when he needed them."

Roger's booking photo shows his brown hair dyed bright blonde.

On social media, a few photos show him with friends and sportscars.

In one, he poses in a driver's seat, a prominent German military insignia tattooed on his arm, a symbol regarded as pro-Nazi.

After his arrest, other photos featuring guns and swords in his home were removed.

Also deleted: his sentiments supporting President Trump and opposing Democrats and selected Republicans.

"In one of his posts he said they were stabbing Trump in the back," noted Kevin Courtney, city editor at the Napa Valley Register.

News staff at the local newspaper looked into Rogers all weekend.

The Register offices happen to back up to British Auto, so the unfolding law enforcement activity was in full view.

"It was detonations, they had taken old tires from the side of the building and created a bunker," said Courtney.

Repeatedly, a robot deposited explosives into the bunker. 

"And then a man in a bomb outfit would go up there and tinker with them and them boom, a bomb would go off," described Courtney. "At one point the last pop was a loud bang and with that it ended."

Rogers has at least one previous arrest, which the Sheriff's Department declined to detail.

His bail Friday started at $100,000 but within hours, shot to $5 million.

"That spoke volumes as to what they may have discovered," said Courtney, "and I think we only know the tip of the iceberg, and not how big that iceberg is."

State and federal investigators are involved in the case against Rogers. 

The Napa Sheriff's Department will not confirm whether the raid is connected to violence threatened around the Presidential inauguration.

"It's tragic when anyone gets to that point of fear or whatever thoughts were in his head," said Oregon, whose shop sits directly across the street from Rogers. "I wonder if this could have been prevented if someone had reached out and befriended him so this might not have occurred."

Debora Villalon is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Debora at and follow her on Twitter@DeboraKTVU