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Puzling discovery in Washington State

sgtrock21sgtrock21 Senior MemberPosts: 1,933 Senior Member
This story was all over the morning and mid day TV and newspaper website news on Nov 17th. I watched the evening and late news expecting more information but there has been absolutely no mention of it since. Why? Were the Sten guns discovered to be fakes and the old vet's felon status vacated (canceled)? The links have photos.



Deputies recover 50 stolen guns, seize 440 more

• Nov 17, 2016

In the largest gun seizure in Cowlitz County in decades, sheriff’s deputies this week arrested eight teenagers on suspicion of stealing more than 50 firearms and other property.
The teenagers allegedly broke into a shed in rural Castle Rock where the guns were stored by their owner, an 87-year-old Portland man. They were among 440 guns — many of which police say likely are illegal, fully automatics — the man had stored there and which deputies seized.
Deputies said they don’t believe the teens had any violent motive for stealing the guns, and the gun owner did not appear to be a threat, either, said Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig.
“Looking through the building, it appears he was a sergeant, an airborne ranger in the Army,” Rosenzweig said, adding that there were several awards for his military service and for his target shooting inside the shed in addition to reloading equipment and ammunition. “All indications are this was his hobby.”
For now, The Daily News is withholding the gun owner’s name at the request of authorities, who have yet to interview him.
Cowlitz County Prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen said there’s no indication any of the five juveniles have prior criminal convictions. Only one of the adult suspects (there are three adults and five juveniles) has a prior criminal conviction.
“Do we think that they had some bad intentions? Absolutely not. They committed a crime, they committed a serious crime. They’re going to be held responsible for that crime,” Rosenzweig said, adding that there’s no indication that this is related to gang or drug activity.
“I think they got wind of these guns’ (location) and made a bad decision to steal them,” he said.
Rosenzweig said most of the young men have been cooperative and honest.
Those arrested include: Skyler Smith, 19, of Yelm on suspicion of burglary, trafficking stolen property and theft of a firearm; Justin C. Gillman, 19, of Longview on suspicion of burglary, theft of a firearm and trafficking stolen property; Mycah U. Mendoza, 18, of Kelso on suspicion of burglary and theft of a firearm; Kyle M. Lopez, 17, of Kelso burglary and theft of a firearm; a 15-year old from Kelso on suspicion of burglary and theft of firearm; a Kelso 16-year-old on suspicion of burglary and theft of a firearm; a Longview 16-year-old on suspicion of burglary and trafficking in stolen property; and a Longview 17-year-old on suspicion of burglary and theft of a firearm.
According to court documents, the father of two of the young men lives nearby the shed. He noticed it had been burglarized. He called the police Monday and told them he believed his sons were involved in the burglary.
The brothers admitted to the burglary and one told deputies that they were with four friends when they drove a Jeep up to the property, broke into the shed and carted off 20 guns on Nov. 14.
The second brother admitted to burglarizing the shed with Smith and Gillman on Nov. 10. They stole knives, silver, watches and tools. Gillman and Smith allegedly went back to the shed and took guns. Smith pawned watches, knives, at least 18 guns and tools the next day, and divied up the $3,000 between the three accomplices, according to court documents.
Mycah Mendoza, 18, led police to where he and his friends had stashed about 30 rifles, pistols and automatic military style guns on Mount Brynion Road. Deputies have tracked 19 more guns to a local pawn shop.
Mendoza and Gillman had their first appearances Thursday in a courtroom packed with their young friends. A young woman cried as Mendoza’s hearing got underway.
All three adult suspects were held in lieu of $5,000 bail. Only Gillman has an adult record — for fourth-degree domestic violence assault this April. He’s in a deferral program for that charge.
Rosenzweig said he’s not sure whether there are more guns yet to find. There could be more arrests.
“Do we think there’s eight more people out there? No. It wouldn’t surprise me if we arrested one or two more people,” he said.
Half of the 440 guns seized guns are conventional firearms found on the open market, Rosenzweig said. The other guns are less conventional. For example, some have been modified to be fully automatic by being welded or pieced together. Rosenzweig said many of the pistols are meant for highly-accurate target practice.
Rosenzweig estimated at least a third of the guns are illegal, and most of those aren’t safe because of their modifications. Rosenzweig said it’s illegal to modify or possess any gun to become fully automatic without going through an extensive permitting process. Rosenzweig said he’s confident the owner hasn’t gone through that process.
The man pleaded guilty in 2010 to Social Security fraud and got six months in prison. It was not known if his right to own firearms has been restored. If not, it would be illegal for him to own any gun.
“We’ve been focused on getting the guns, getting them secured, getting them in a place where they’re safe,” Rosenzweig said.
The Daily News, Longview, Wash.
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