Law Enforcement Having Trouble Hanging on to Their Weapons

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Members of law enforcement in the Bay Area and beyond are having trouble holding on to their weapons, and one of them was used to kill a man September 29 in Oakland while he painted a mural of nonviolence.

Oakland police arrested Marquese Holloway in the killing of Antonio Ramos and on Wednesday confirmed that the Glock 26 semi-automatic pistol used in the shooting once belonged to a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer. The gun was reportedly stolen from a rental car in mid-September. ICE said in a statement the theft was properly reported.

It is not an isolated incident. NBC Bay Area reported last week that its investigation found 497 weapons have turned up missing at eight law enforcement agencies since 2010. That includes the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and six area police departments.

That’s about as many weapons as turned up last week in the hands of Albert Sheakalee, a Clovis man, who legally cannot possess any guns. He is in California’s Armed & Prohibited Persons System (APPS) database due to a prior mental health hold.

Agents for the state Department of Justice recovered 209 handguns, 88 shotguns, 234 rifles, 10 assault weapons, a .50-caliber bolt-action rifle, 181 standard-capacity magazines, 10 high-capacity magazines and 100,521 rounds of ammunition. Sheakalee, owner of Green Gables Care Home in Clovis, does not have a record and bailed out of jail for $11,000.   

There was no immediate indication that any of Sheakalee’s weapons were formerly possessed by cops, but if they were, they weren’t necessarily in NBC’s tally. A number of agencies, including Oakland, refused to respond to the journalists’ state Public Records Act requests.

Of those that did, the stolen or lost weapon of choice was a Taser. About one-third of the weapons, 166, were stun guns, followed by Smith & Wessen model 66 revolvers (123), Sig Sauer pistols (64), Remington shotguns (49) and Smith & Wessen model 3906 pistols (24). Ten Defense Technologies 40mm launchers also disappeared, along with six Remington model 700 sniper rifles, four Bushmaster rifles and two Colt M-16 rifles.

Dozens of weapons were stolen from the homes and vehicles of officers. The CHP had 35 weapons go missing, and all but three were reported as stolen.  

Most of the missing firearms, 324, came from the San Jose Police Department, which keeps meticulous records of its sloppiness. Only 16 of the weapons reported missing ever surfaced and 2,448 of the department’s total weapons stash were properly registered with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), NBC said.

Missing law enforcement weapons are just a small portion of firearms that are stolen each year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says more than 1 million firearms nationwide, and 57,792 in California, were stolen from civilians since 2010. But it’s not necessarily the larcenous heart that drives weapon thefts.

“In this day and age of technology, most of the electronics don’t really have any value at all,” Graham Barlowe, at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), told NBC. “The firearms do.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Oakland: Police Confirm Gun Used to Kill Muralist Belonged to ICE Agent (by Harry Harris, Oakland Tribune)

Gun Used to Kill Oakland Muralist Traced to ICE Agents’ Car (by Jaxon Van Derbeken and Kale Williams, San Francisco Chronicle)

Man Charged in the Death of Muralist Shot While Painting Anti-Violence Art in Oakland (by Veronica Rocha, Los Angeles Times)

Unaccounted For: Hundreds of Guns Lost or Stolen From Bay Area Police Agencies Since 2010 (by Stephen Stock, Michael Bott and Felipe Escamilla, NBC Bay Area)

Clovis Man Banned from Owning Guns Had 500 Firearms, State AG Says (by Pablo Lopez, Fresno Bee)

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