Some guns sold by law enforcement end up at new crime scenes
SEATTLE (AP) — A yearlong Associated Press analysis found more than a dozen firearms sold by law enforcement agencies in Washington since 2010 later became evidence in new criminal investigations.
Identifying guns sold by law enforcement and matching them to new crimes required extensive research and dozens of public records requests to individual agencies. Using those records, the AP created a database of almost 6,000 firearms sold by law enforcement since 2010.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declined to release tracking information on guns associated with crimes, so the AP collected crime-gun databases from individual agencies and compared them with the sold-gun database to find guns with matching make, model, caliber and serial numbers.
Below is a look at guns sold by law enforcement that were later picked up at crime scenes:
BABY SHOT IN CAR SEAT
On May 17, 2009, a Washington State Patrol trooper tried to stop a speeding Jeep Cherokee. When the driver refused to pull over, troopers put a spike strip across the road. The driver swerved to avoid it and lost control, causing the Jeep to roll over.
As the trooper approached, the driver threw a gun out the window. A child and baby were in the back seat but suffered only minor injuries. Troopers also found a backpack containing marijuana, scales and Valium. The driver was a convicted felon, so he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm — a Lorcin L380 semi-automatic pistol, reckless endangerment and possession of marijuana.
On June 22, 2010, the State Patrol traded a batch of weapons, including the Lorcin pistol, with a firearms dealer who sold it to the public.
On April 19, 2015, in Kent, a vehicle pulled up next to another car carrying a couple and their 1-year-old daughter and opened fire, killing the child. The gun used in the shooting was a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber firearm.
DeMartrae “Marty” Kime, a member of the street gang “Low Profile,” was charged with the killing. Prosecutors say he was targeting the child’s father, a member of an opposing gang, “Deuce 8,” in retaliation for another death.
While investigating Kime, Kent police searched an apartment that Kime “had been associated with.” A detective said the apartment was frequented by gang members. During the search, police found the Lorcin L380 semi-automatic pistol - the firearm traded by the State Patrol.
Detective Jarod Kasner said the Lorcin was a stolen firearm from Des Moines, Washington. The Lorcin was not the gun that killed the 1-year-old, but was linked to the man charged in her death.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office sold a batch of guns at auction in April 2014 that included a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.
In early October 2016, Jaylen Bolar, 22, sent text messages to his mother, threatening to kill her and others, according to police reports. His mother, Angela Almo, contacted a behavioral health center instead of the police because she knew her son had firearms, including a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, and she feared he’d be killed in a standoff with authorities.
When the Tacoma police became involved, he denied sending threatening messages, but his aunt pulled up to the house and confirmed that she, too, received threats.
Bolar also threatened to kill a woman who used to be his boss. She had fired him, and “the text message stated that the persons receiving the message should not be surprised if they found Rhonda Brannun’s dead body,” the police report said.
Bolar was taken into custody, and a search of his home found two firearms leaning next to the dresser in his bedroom. One was the Mossberg shotgun sold by the sheriff’s office.
JUVENILES IN STOLEN CAR
The Aberdeen Police Department sold a Lorcin Model L380 pistol on Feb. 1, 2011.
On May 24, 2016, an officer with the Kent Police Department located a stolen vehicle parked at an apartment complex in Kent. He pulled up behind the Honda and saw a lot of movement inside by three people.
The officer placed all three juveniles in handcuffs and searched the vehicle. He found a loaded Lorcin Model L380 pistol — the one sold by the Aberdeen police — under the driver’s seat. Based on where one of the juveniles was sitting, the officer determined it was his. The young man was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and unlawful possession of a firearm.
All three juveniles were convicted felons for stealing cars and one for attempting to elude an officer.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office sold a Hi Point 9mm pistol on March 6, 2014.
On Oct. 24, 2015, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from a woman who said she heard what she thought was a gunshot and went outside to find her daughter’s intoxicated boyfriend passed out on the front porch.
When deputies arrived they found a handgun, the Hi Point 9 mm pistol, on the ground next to the man. It was the gun sold by the Kitsap sheriff’s office.
The man was a convicted felon who wasn’t permitted to have a gun. The deputy put the man in handcuffs and called for medical help.
PROHIBITED FROM HAVING A GUN
The Washington State Patrol traded a batch of weapons, including a Taurus semi-automatic 22-caliber pistol, with a firearms dealer on June 22, 2010.
On May 30, 2015, the Kent Police Department responded to a 911 call. No one spoke, but dispatch could hear rustling noises and a male voice in the background.
Officers arrived and found three men and a woman in front of a house. Police suspected they were burglarizing the home.
Police found a Taurus .22 caliber pistol — the same gun sold by the State Patrol — in one of the suspect’s pockets. A search of records revealed Angelino Ramirez was the subject of a no-contact order out of the King County Sheriff’s Office that stated he was prohibited from possessing a firearm. He was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.
Another search revealed the previous owner of the weapon reported he was the victim of a burglary and the pistol was stolen.
The Aberdeen Police Department traded a JC Higgins .22-caliber rifle to a firearms dealer on Feb. 1, 2011, and it was then sold to the public.
On April 25, 2015, the Yakima Police Department responded to a domestic violence assault involving a JC Higgins .22-caliber rifle — the gun sold by the Aberdeen police. The dispute involved an elderly man who had handled his wife roughly and made threats against her sister. The man was charged, and police took his firearm. It ended up back on the street.
On Oct. 28, 2015, the Kent Police Department, a SWAT team and special investigations unit served a search warrant on a house in Kent believe to be a drug house. Immediately arrested were several people who were wanted on felony warrants.
The search found a list of firearms and a lot of drugs, including methamphetamine. One of the firearms found in bedroom No. 1 was a JC Higgins .22-caliber rifle with the same serial number as the gun taken in the domestic violence assault and sold by Aberdeen police. The man who was staying in that room was a felon and was prohibited from having guns.
FACEBOOK POSTS ABOUT KILLING
The Thurston County Narcotics Task Force sold a Smith & Wesson pistol on Aug. 1, 2012, for $100.
Officers with the Tacoma Police Department went to the University of Washington, Tacoma, security office on Oct. 17, 2013, after receiving an email from a security officer who was contacted by a student regarding some disturbing Facebook posts.
The female student said another student recently split with his girlfriend and began posting pictures of a gun and his dreams about killing people.
A screen shot of his Facebook page said he “had vivid, colorful dreams of shooting and killing lots of people last night.”
The officers made contact with a man on the UW campus, and they asked if he was carrying a weapon. He said he had a knife in his pocket. A search of his backpack found a loaded Smith & Wesson handgun — the same gun sold by the Thurston County task force — with 13 rounds in the magazine.
The man had a permit to carry a concealed weapon but acknowledged he knew UWT prohibits people from having guns without a university permit. He said he carried the weapons out of safety concerns.
Officers issued a citation for the illegal knife and took him into custody. He was booked into a mental health center for an evaluation.
COCAINE PARTY FAVORS
On March 24, 2011, the Bonney Lake Police Department traded a batch of weapons with a firearms dealer to get store credit for police equipment. The trade included a Davis Industries .380-caliber handgun.
On Feb. 10, 2012, the Kent Police Department stopped a vehicle for having an expired registration. The driver also had a suspended license. He said he had a concealed weapons permit for the firearm found in the center console. The gun was the Davis Industries .380-caliber handgun sold by Bonney Lake police.
A search also found marijuana and two baggies containing a white powder believed to be cocaine.
The man said he was on his way to a party, and the drugs were “party favors.” A search of his clothing and car found more baggies of cocaine.
The man was taken to the Kent Correctional Facility.
THREATS TO KILL
Longview Police Department sold a Davis Industries .22 caliber pistol on Aug. 7, 2016. The department generally sells its forfeited firearms at a public auction run.
On May 5, 2017, James Brown called 911 to report that his father, Jesse, and another man “loaded up three different firearms” and talked about teaching a couple of guys a lesson. Jesse Brown believed the targets of his anger were selling drugs, and he didn’t want his daughter going to their house.
James Brown said his father, who used to brag about controlling Thurston County with his violence, was drunk. “I think he was nostalgic. ... He just wanted to relive the glory days where he was kicking down doors and pointing guns at people.”
Jesse Brown and his friend went to the house and parked in front. Jesse yelled for the occupants to come out. The two men said Jesse was drunk and had trouble walking and speaking.
The two men inside said they feared for their lives. Jesse Brown was charged with one count of felony harassment; threats to kill.
The gun he carried was Davis Industries .22 caliber pistol — the one sold by Longview police. The sheriff’s office also confiscated 15 other guns from his home.
FATHER MAKES THREATS
In December 2014, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office sold a Mossberg, Model 590, 12-gauge shotgun for $160.
Just after midnight on March 10, 2016, Tacoma police officers responded to a call from a 12-year-old girl who said she and her sister fled their residence because their father “was threatening to shoot someone and beat up (one of the girls) for not knowing where the gun was.”
The girls were in the street without jackets or shoes. Police said they “appeared to be visibly in fear” and frantically explained what happened.
The girls were visiting their father, who had joint custody. He and his live-in girlfriend had been at a bar, where they argued. The fight began again when they returned, and the father confronted his daughters asking where his gun was and making statements about wanting “to put a hole in her,” referring to his girlfriend.
The father pulled up as police spoke with the girls. They were taken to their mother’s home, and police conducted a sobriety test on the man, who failed.
He claimed his girlfriend had assaulted him by grabbing him around his neck, and he said he was afraid her family would come over and attack him, so he wanted to arm himself.
The man was charged with assault and driving under the influence of alcohol. Police found the loaded shotgun in the bathtub. It was a Mossberg, Model 590, 12-gauge shotgun, the gun sold by the sheriff’s office.
The Washington State Patrol traded a batch of guns to a firearms vendor on June 22, 2010, that included a Smith and Wesson handgun.
On Sept. 16, 2014, the Yakima Police Department responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun . They arrived to find 24-year-old Kyle Juhl with a gunshot wound to the head.
His former girlfriend told police they had lived together but recently separated. She was at the apartment picking up some belongings when Juhl came home.
He held a Smith and Wesson handgun — the one previously sold by the State Patrol — to his head and threatened to kill himself, and the girlfriend and her mother ran out the front door as the gun went off.
Juhl had shot himself in the head. The bullet went through the wall in the bathroom and into the next-door apartment, “barely missing the neighbors and her kids,” the police report said.
MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY
In August 2013, officers with the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force searched the home of suspected drug dealer Ted V. Hall Jr., of Spanaway. They found $33,000, heroin, meth and 19 firearms, including a Springfield Armory .40-caliber pistol. Hall was convicted on drug and firearms charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The task force sold most of the firearms Dec. 1, 2013, in a trade with Surplus Ammo & Arms in Tacoma.
On Feb. 21, 2014, a Seattle Police officer met with King County Prosecutor Ann Mizuta about Dan Callan. His son, Robert, was at the Involuntary Treatment Act court for a potential mental health hearing. He had been delivered to a health care facility for “bizarre behavior and was believed to be experiencing a mental health emergency,” the police report said.
Dan Callan knew his son, who lived in Federal Way, had several firearms, but he didn’t know where they were. He feared his son may have “left the guns around somewhere,” due to his “present disorganized state of mind.” Callan later found the guns and asked to meet with the police so he could turn them over to them for safekeeping.
They met on Feb. 24, 2014, at Callan’s office. He said his son had opted to remain voluntarily committed. He gave police a black plastic case containing two loaded pistols, a 9 mm and a .40 caliber, along with three loaded magazines. The .40-caliber gun was the pistol sold by the task force.
When contacted, Callan said he “felt much safer to have him not have the guns.” He said he wasn’t aware a law enforcement agency had sold the gun after it was involved in a crime.
“I don’t get it,” he said. “The more we can do to get rid of them, the better. I think it’s crazy that they would sell them. Totally crazy.”