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Entries in Weapons (10)

Wednesday
Dec122012

Former US Marine Stuck in Mexican Jail, Fighting Weapons Charges

WPLG/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former U.S. Marine who took off on a surfing adventure to Costa Rica in August is stuck in a Mexican jail just over the border from Texas, and his family is calling for his release.

Ex-Marine Jon Hammar headed south with fellow veteran Ian McDonough on what was supposed to be a few months of surfing and camping in a Winnebago in Costa Rica.  The two had recently finished a treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, which Hammar suffered after fighting in Fallujah, Afghanistan, according to his mother, Olivia.

"The treatment's very exhausting, it's a tough program, and he was there almost nine months," Hammer's mother said.  "(They) decided they were going to buy an R.V., fix it up, drive down to Costa Rica through Mexico, and we were very nervous about it.  We tried to discourage it, to tell him to take a plane, but they said, 'We're taking nine surfboards and need a place to stay.'"

Hammar and McDonough arrived on the border between Mexico and Texas on Aug. 15.  Hammar, however, had packed his great grandfather's shotgun, a .410 Sears and Roebuck model nearly 100 years old.  Hammar had hoped to hunt small birds with it while living in Costa Rica, Olivia said.  The pair wanted to register the gun with Mexican authorities at the crossing point.

"There were signs that said you can't take a firearm, and so Ian said scrap it, don't take it, but Johnny said, 'Let's talk to the customs agent,'" according to Olivia.  "They said, 'Technically you can (bring it across) but you'll need to register it,' and had (Johnny) fill out paperwork to present to Mexican officials."

The gun was meant for hunting, but border officials arrested the pair on federal charges of having a weapon that is reserved for military use.  McDonough was released when Hammar claimed the gun was his.

Olivia and Hammer's father, Jon Sr., hired local lawyers to defend their son in Matamoros, Mexico, where Hammar was taken to state prison.  The U.S. State Department was notified by Mexican authorities the following day, according to a department official who spoke on background.

But once Hammar was in prison, his family said they began receiving irregular phone calls from Hammar, sometimes in the middle of the night, and sometimes accompanied by other prisoners demanding money.

"Almost immediately we began receiving extortion calls from cartel members in prison with him," Olivia said.  The State Department and Hammar's lawyer, Eddie Varon Levy, would not comment on the claim about cartel members.

Olivia and Jon Sr. say that, filled with panic, they contacted the U.S. consulate in Matamoros, Mexico, which arranged to have Hammar isolated from the general prison population.  They were advised not to pay any ransom money, Olivia said.

A State Department official said, "The safety and well being of Mr. Hammar is a serious matter. ...We requested he be moved away from the general prison population, and prison authorities granted that request.  Now, he is in a separate room with constant contact with prison personnel."

Hammar's parents are hoping that Varon Levy can help extricate their son from the Mexican judicial system.  Varon Levy, speaking with ABC News from Mexico City, said that the charges Hammar was initially arrested on proved false; he was not carrying a banned weapon that was only for the military.  The actual criminal charges were brought because the barrel of his shotgun was too short.

Varon Levy said he hopes to get Hammer out of jail within the next month, as he works with prosecutors to discuss evidence, witnesses and possible lesser charges in the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Man Busted With Weapons, Body Armor at LAX

Creatas/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A Boston-bound man wearing body armor, flame retardant leggings and knee pads under his trench coat was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after a Customs and Border Protection officer found a smoke grenade and several weapons in his checked luggage. He is now facing a federal charge for transporting hazardous material on an airplane.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Yongda Huang Harris, 28, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chinese descent, was flying from Kansai, Japan, via Inchon, Korea, to LAX on Friday.

He was pulled aside in customs for a secondary baggage inspection when an officer noticed Harris was wearing a bullet-proof vest. The officer asked Harris if he had anything he would like to declare in his checked luggage.

Harris told the officer he had a knife, but when his bag was searched, the officer found a troubling array of suspicious items.

In addition to the smoke grenade, officers found three leather-coated black-jack billy clubs, a collapsible baton, a full-face respirator, several knives and a hatchet.

Officers also found body bags, a tyvex biohazard suit, various masks, duct tape, hand cuffs, leg irons, flex cuffs, oven mitts and cooking tongs.

The smoke grenade, manufactured by a company called Commando, is classified as an explosive and is capable of filling a 40,000-cubic-foot space with smoke, according to the affidavit. The grenade is also capable of causing a fire.

It is not clear why Harris had those items in his luggage, but the investigation is ongoing.

Authorities say they are working with investigators in Japan, where Harris has been living, to learn more about why he would bring such an assortment of implements on board an international flight. LAPD and FBI are assisting in the investigation.

Harris, according to a Department of Homeland Security statement, makes his permanent home in Boston.

Though he was arrested Friday, due to the federal holiday Harris made his initial appearance Tuesday in a Los Angeles federal court and remains in federal custody.

He is scheduled to be back in court Friday for a detention hearing. A call to his attorney has not yet been returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

Maine Man Accused of Lying About Drug Use to Amass Weapons Arsenal

Handout Photo(BIDDEFORD, Maine) -- A Biddeford, Maine, man who was arrested after a Maine State Trooper clocked his Ford Mustang going 112 mph on the Maine Turnpike, allegedly had a small arsenal in his car and told police he had attended a Saturday screening of The Dark Knight Rises with a gun in his bag and was on his way to kill his former boss.

Timothy Courtois, who was arrested Sunday by a Maine State Trooper, allegedly had an AK-47, a 12-gauge shotgun, four handguns and several boxes of ammunition and a small amount of synthetic marijuana in his car. According to Maine State Police, Courtois also had news articles in his car about the Friday shooting in Aurora, Colo., in which 12 people were killed and 58 wounded.

Courtois allegedly told police that he attended the Saturday night showing of the new Batman movie at the Cinemagic Theater in Saco, Maine, with a loaded gun in his backpack. Police said Courtois allegedly told them that when he was arrested he was traveling to Derry, N.H., to shoot his former boss.

Given the firearms in the car, Maine State Police contacted the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to assist with the investigation. When Main State Police and investigators conducted a search of his apartment they allegedly found additional firearms including a DPMS/Panther Arms, Model A-15, .223 caliber rifle, a gun similar to the AR-15 carried by alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes.

Police also found thousands of rounds of ammunition and a synthetic form of marijuana called K2 or Spice, which recently became a controlled substance.

Courtois allegedly purchased the .223 rifle on Friday at a sporting goods store in Scarborough, Maine, but according to an ATF affidavit in the case, Courtois lied on the paperwork when he asserted that he was not an unlawful user of drugs or addicted to drugs.

Courtois was charged in a criminal complaint Tuesday with one count of making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm and two counts of possession of firearms by an unlawful user of controlled substances.

According to the ATF affidavit filed in federal court, Courtois agreed to be interviewed by investigators from the Maine State Police and an ATF and FBI agent. During the interview, Courtois allegedly admitted the firearms were all his.

Courtois also allegedly discussed his use of marijuana and K2 with the investigators and allegedly asked the officers and agents for drugs.

“Several times during the interview Courtois asked us if we could get him some weed so he could smoke weed and eat Chinese food,” the ATF affidavit said.

A review of the federal court docket did not indicate if Courtois had a defense attorney assigned to represent him. If convicted of all the federal charges, Courtois faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul202012

Colo. Shooting Suspect Bought 4 Guns, 6,000 Rounds of Ammunition in Past 60 Days

University of Colorado Denver/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AURORA, Colo.) -- Suspected Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes purchased four guns at local shops and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet in the past 60 days, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told a news conference Friday evening.

"All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally," an emotional Oates said.

Authorities have yet to identify all of the 10 victims who died at the theater. Two other people died at the hospital, for a total of 12 dead. Thirty people remained hospitalized, 11 of them critical, Oates said.

A total of 70 people were injured, most of them by gunfire but a "handful" during the ensuing chaos, Oates said. One person was hit in an adjacent theater.

[CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE SCENE]

Gov. John Hickenlooper opened the news conference Friday evening, saying, "We are seeing this community rise up and do the things that communities do."

At times lost for words, he repeatedly praised the efforts of the first responders.

The shooting occurred during a sold-out midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, when Holmes, 24, allegedly unloaded four weapons' full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.

The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, an honors student and Ph.D. candidate at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, allegedly entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bulletproof vest, bulletproof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said Friday.

Holmes, who is being held in jail, is originally from Riverside, Calif., where he attended the University of California branch, Oates told reporters at a news conference Friday evening. "The suspect lived alone and he kept to himself," Oates added.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of The Dark Knight Rises audience were killed in the theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said Friday afternoon.

Authorities began removing the bodies that afternoon, according to ABC News Denver affiliate KMGH-TV. Several people have been reported missing as the coroner identifies the dead.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle.

Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was "The Joker," referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, The Dark Knight. He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Chief Oates earlier Friday said that police, bomb squads and the ATF have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes' apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

"The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped," police said outside of the apartment complex. The "flammable and explosive" materials could have blown up Holmes' apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients and staff members, residents told ABC News.

Oates Friday evening said police will allow residents to retrieve personal belongings but leave the booby-trapped apartment alone for now, and inspect them Saturday with the help of federal law enforcement. Residents are staying at a local high school in the meantime. Oats didn't know many people are displaced from the five apartment buildings involved.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar052012

TSA Confiscates Four Guns per Day

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Transportation Security Administration said it picked up 1,306 guns at airport checkpoints last year.

That’s four guns a day. And that doesn’t include the spear guns and bombs.

Last week alone the TSA confiscated a live mortar bomb, heavy-duty firecrackers, three stun guns, signal flares and a jar of dead snakes. Two weeks ago, TSA agents found, yes, a spear gun and 24 loaded firearms in passenger luggage.

Yes, you can carry registered handguns in checked luggage, but they have to be declared at check-in.

Surprising the TSA’s X-ray machine is not advised. Also this year, two cannonballs were confiscated at Kahului airport in Hawaii, two grenades in Colorado Springs, Colo., and a grenade launcher in checked baggage in Seattle. The TSA said it would have been even more concerned if the grenades and grenade launcher were in the same Samsonite.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Probe Finds 62% of Private Gun Sellers Sell to Prohibited Individuals

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than six in 10 private gun sellers agreed to sell a firearm to a buyer who said he probably couldn't pass a background check, according to a report released Wednesday by New York City officials as part of an undercover investigation.

"Our investigation indicates illegal online sales are a problem that's national in scope," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference Wednesday.

Federal law prohibits felons, domestic abusers, drug addicts, and the mentally ill from buying firearms, and federally-licensed firearms dealers are required to conduct background checks and keep paperwork on their buyers.  But unlicensed private sellers -- who account for about 40 percent of U.S. gun sales -- do not have to conduct background checks on their buyers.  They are prohibited, however, from selling firearms to someone they know to be a prohibited purchaser.

These private sellers have found a safe place to conduct their business in the online market, where sellers' identities are not required and transactions are often not recorded, according to the report.

In the last 15 years, a large percentage of firearms sales in the U.S. have moved online, through sites like GunBroker.com, which reported about $1 billion in sales in 2009 -- up from about $12 million in 2000.  The site has over 1.8 million registered users.  Many sales on sites like GunBroker.com are, "largely unregulated and undocumented," according to the report, making it difficult to calculate the exact number of online gun sales.

But investigators are certain the online market is vast.  This year, on 10 websites alone, investigators found more than 25,000 guns for sale, according to the report.

The report, called "Point, Click, Fire: An Investigation of Illegal Online Gun Sales," documents the findings of city investigators who tried to determine whether unlicensed private sellers advertising firearms online refuse to sell to buyers who could not pass a background check.

Members of the 15-person investigative team posed as illegal purchasers, asking sellers to meet in person to exchange guns for cash.  Investigators recorded telephone calls with the sellers, and used concealed cameras to videotape their in-person interactions where guns were exchanged for cash.

Investigators looked at 125 online private sellers in 14 states who advertised on 10 websites, and 77 agreed to sell a gun to a buyer who could not pass a background check.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov102011

TSA: Over 1,000 Guns Confiscated by Airport Security This Year

Matthew Peyton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Transportation Security Administration officers have confiscated more than 1,000 guns that were discovered by security personnel as passengers traveled through airport security screenings so far this year, the head of the TSA said.

“More than 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, people are still trying to bring deadly weapons into the cabin of an airplane,” TSA administrator John Pistole said at George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute.

“On Tuesday, just two days ago, we detected nine guns passengers had in their carry-on bags at various checkpoints around the country.” Pistole said.

Pistole showed several slides of drugs and weapons that passengers were attempting to bring or smuggle onboard aircraft.

One slide showed a veritable arsenal allegedly taken from a man arrested at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport after, officials said, TSA officers discovered two handguns, three ammunition clips and eight knives in his bag last month.

According to one DHS official, the man claimed he forgot the weapons were in his bags.

“We have seen a slight increase in guns being brought to the checkpoint over the past few months,” said a TSA official.  “We don’t keep stats on why passengers bring prohibited items to airports but, anecdotally, passengers typically say they forgot it was in their bag.”

In his speech, Pistole also hailed the use of the controversial advanced imaging technology, which some people call the “body scanners” deployed at airports.

“We continue to see the efficacy of advanced imaging technology,” he said. “While there is no silver bullet technology, this technology gives our officers the best opportunity to detect both metallic and non-metallic threats, including improvised explosive devices such as the device [accused underwear bomber] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate on Christmas Day 2009.”

Pistole showed the audience a picture of a man who was attempting to smuggle 700 grams of cocaine by wrapping ace bandages around his legs. Pistole said the AIT machine had alerted screeners to an anomaly in the ankle area.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep302011

Ohio Bars Open Doors to Gun Owners

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The signs outside Shooters Bar and Grill in Galion, Ohio, are clear, albeit ironic: “No weapons allowed.”

Owner Vicki Bash says that won’t change as Ohio’s controversial new gun law takes effect Friday. It allows people licensed to carry concealed weapons to take them into taverns, hotels, restaurants and other places where liquor is served.  But those carrying guns are not allowed to drink.  And taverns, such as Shooters, can still keep weapons out as long as they post signs banning them.

“People aren’t supposed to drink and drive either,” Bash said. “But they do.”

She worries that bartenders have no way of knowing who is carrying a weapon so they must rely entirely on customers’ following the law. “I’m not against guns,” Bash said, but “alcohol creates stupidity.”

But other bars, including the Crazy Fox in Bucyrus, Ohio, don’t have a problem with concealed weapons as long as their owners don’t drink. The law passed despite objections from the Ohio Restaurant Association, which represents more than 5,000 mostly independent establishments.

“Alcohol and guns are typically not a good mix,” association spokesman Jarrad Clabaugh said.

Ohio is the latest state to allow gun owners to take their concealed weapons into bars. In Tennessee, which passed a similar law last year, Nikki Goeser has been a strong advocate, saying, “You know what, we need to be protected because the bad guys are going to carry their guns.”

In 2009, before Tennessee passed its new law, her husband, Ben, was shot and killed inside a Nashville tavern. “I had to leave my legal, permitted weapon locked in my vehicle that night,” she said. "And I’ll probably wonder for the rest of my life if I could have saved Ben.”

But many bartenders and waitresses are wary of the new law. "After a couple of drinks, they get their beer muscles and start swinging fists,” Nashville cocktail waitress Jessi Morrow said, adding that she fears guns add more danger to such volatile situations.

Waiter Chris Reeves isn’t comforted by the law’s prohibition against drinking by gun-toters. “Maybe he’s not drinking. But another guy has had several and has an attitude.” he said. “You could have multiple shots scattered in a matter of seconds.”

In Tennessee, Ray Friedman, who opposes guns in bars and restaurants, publishes a website listing which establishments ban them. “It’s tough for restaurants to be put in that position, but in fact they do have to make a choice,” he said.

But gun advocate Goeser said she is safer in a bar or restaurant, knowing her .38 Smith & Wesson Special is tucked into a hidden sleeve of her purse.  “Do I feel like I could stop someone from hurting innocent people?” she asked. “I think so.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Fugitive Dougherty Siblings Allegedly Have Deadly 'Arsenal'

FBI Atlanta Field Office(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The fugitive Dougherty siblings, on the lam for a week, have an arsenal of high-powered weapons, and a newly released video shows that the siblings know how to use them, police said.

Ryan Dougherty, 21, sister Lee Grace E. Dougherty, 29, and half-brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26, have been on the run since Aug. 2 when they allegedly shot at a Florida police officer attempting to pull over their white Subaru Impreza for speeding. A few hours later, they allegedly robbed a bank in Georgia.

"We know that Ryan several years ago purchased an AK-47 at a pawn shop," Pasco County (Florida) Sheriff Chris Nocco said.  "We know his brother, Dylan, also purchased several high-caliber rifles and handguns...We were also informed by family members that they do have a large arsenal and when we searched the house, there were no weapons or any ammunition left so we know they took them with them."

Nocco said the siblings could be anywhere.

"We want to reiterate to the Dougherty family, we want you to turn yourselves in, we want a peaceful resolution, but at the same time we understand if they want to battle with us, we have the resources and we will win," Nocco said.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office on Monday released dash-cam video of the high-speed chase that launched the nationwide manhunt to find the siblings, now dubbed the Dougherty Gang.

The chase started the same day that Ryan Dougherty had allegedly cut off his court-ordered ankle monitoring device.  He'd been forced to register as a sex offender for sending explicit text messages to an 11-year-old girl.

The video shows the Doughertys' white Subaru zooming by the Zephyrhills, Florida police car.  The police officer can be heard saying, "Speeds over 100 mph at this time."

The siblings allegedly take aim at the car.  The officer says, "Fired several shots at me."

Nocco said the Doughertys weren't just trying to disable the police car, they were trying to kill the officer.

Luckily, the officer was uninjured.  The chase came to an end when one of the 20 shots fired at the officer punctured his patrol car's tire.

A few hours later, the siblings allegedly robbed a bank in Valdosta, Georgia.  A masked woman who appears to be Lee Grace Dougherty is seen allegedly holding an Uzi submachine gun.

"She had her finger on the trigger.  We know they are trained in these weapons, they're not afraid to use them and they are extremely dangerous," Nocco said.

A week into the manhunt for the violent criminals, spottings have been reported throughout the southeast, including one in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  A digital billboard campaign is also being used by law enforcement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

The Navy SEAL Team 6 Weapons that Brought Down Bin Laden

MILpictures by Tom Weber(NEW YORK) -- As Navy SEAL Team 6 closed in on its prey -- Osama bin Laden -- it likely entered the battle armed with the best weapons and technology available to soldiers anywhere in the world, a military expert and former Navy SEAL fighter told ABC News.

Although tactical details of Sunday's mission remain unconfirmed, ABC News spoke with a former Navy SEAL sniper to learn what equipment and tech toys SEAL teams usually use to take down a target.

"The organizations we're talking about have the resources to get any weapon systems they think are necessary to do the job, and they will bring [anything] they think will give them the greatest advantage in that moment," Richard "Mac" Machowicz, a former Navy SEAL sniper and the host of Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior, told ABC News. "If they get it, and they like it, they'll use it."

The Blackhawk helicopters that carried them to the scene not only hold missiles and large-caliber guns but provide a lookout platform.

"SEALs have developed the ability to send very accurate fire from helicopters," Machowicz said.

Those snipers would have available highly customized rifles tailored to that particular battlefield, he said. Machowicz told ABC News that when he was a sniper, he essentially had eight different sniper rifles tailored to different scenarios.

The SEAL's ground weapons were likely highly specialized too. "The mission dictates the target, the target dictates the weapons and the weapons dictate how they're used," Machowicz said. In the bin Laden scenario, the SEALs would have likely used short-barrel weapons -- such as a shortened M4 or AR-15 assault rifle -- that allow them to easily maneuver in and out of doors, hallways and vehicles.

Machowicz speculates those guns used a large bullet type. "There are new weapons systems that fire the .45 caliber [round] that allows you to deliver a lot more kinetic energy, and you don't need to worry about overpenetration on the target."

In the sky, in-atmosphere satellites (such as predator drones) and space-based satellites convey information to the troops on the ground. Helmet-mounted cameras, which were reportedly worn during the mission to capture bin Laden, also transmitted information to commanders back at base and to the situation room in Washington. This helps the soldiers on the ground to quickly identify their targets, pick up every threat and take them down fast.

The lookout platform from the Blackhawks is extremely important, as the ground soldiers were most likely not using night-vision goggles. "All of the rehearsals for this were most likely done at night so target identification would be natural," said Machowicz. "You don't want to just have night vision on the guys' faces, because the changing light conditions could change how you are able to use that....You don't want guys messing with their night vision when they're supposed to be taking out targets."

Suppressers, which are built into most modern-day weapons, would have also likely been made available to SEAL Team 6. Contrary to popular perception, they not only provide a stealth advantage but also help the team communicate once the bullets start flying. Anyone who has been on a gun range can tell you, gunshots are loud.

That means the fancy radios used to get everyone in place until the mission starts get replaced with low-tech out loud shouting once the firing begins and stealth is no longer an option.

One of the other useful tools in a SEAL's kit is the flash bang, or stun grenade. This device works similar to a regular grenade but is nonlethal, while still producing a disorienting amount of sound and light. Volume, noise and power allow you to dominate a room.

"SEALs want to physically and mentally dominate that space from the moment they enter," says Machowicz. "Now what happens, when you're startled, anything that guy does to you just seems so much faster."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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