Stolen Security: Stolen guns fueling other crimes

Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 22:36:15-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Lock it our lose it. It's a plea you've heard hundreds of times but turns out a lot of legal gun owners are not listening and it's leading to deadly consequences.

Let's face it; it's not legal gun owners committing violent crimes. The Fort Myers Police Department says its working on catching the criminals but they need some of you to stop making it so easy for them because a simple oversight has proven to destroy lives, like the night of the Club Blu shooting.

Two teens didn't make it home that night, 14-year-old Sean Archilles and 18-year-old Stef'an Strawder, a Lehigh basketball star.

BJ Edwards was supposed to be showing off college to Stef'an, instead he remembers what he loved most about his friend he calls his brother.

"He had like a very distinct laugh and nobody can ever take that," said BJ.

BJ is a star in his own right, now playing basketball at Nova Southeastern. He grew up with Stef'an, mentored him on and off the court.

"It was just so tough because you just wouldn't expect it. You know, him, out of all people... him."

Nobody has actually been charged with pulling the trigger but police found a gun at the scene linked back to a Jazmine Barron. 

She's now facing charges of lying about her address when she bought the gun.

Her lawyer, Robert Harris says it was just a minor address snafu.

He says his client has nothing to do with the shooting but it's clear her gun got in the wrong hands sometime between February of 2015, when she bought it and that fateful day last Summer.

Harris says Barron doesn't know for sure what happened to her gun. She guesses it may have gotten lost in a move or stolen from her house.

"Guns end up... they're like currency they end up everywhere. Five, six different hands between the original person that bought it and the person that commits a crime with it and that's why there's no telling where that gun was for that 18 month period," explains Harris.  "Clearly we need to keep a better handle on our weapons, as society."

And that's the problem.  According to the ATF, the average time between the originating sale of a gun to when that gun is linked to a crime is almost 10 years.

According to FDLE, between September of 2015 to September of 2016, local law enforcement documented 1,820 stolen guns between Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties combined.

That's 1,249 in Lee County. 372 in Collier County and 199 in Charlotte County.

Jay Rodriguez with the Fort Myers Police Department says a lot of time, it's the legal gun owners literally leaving the door open for thieves.

"They're not looking for guns but it's a good day if they get one because they know they are going to get money for it,"  And a few transactions later, those legal guns are now part of a crime.

Rodriguez says often times stolen guns show up in other crimes.

For example, in the City of Palms park shooting in 2015, police say Quan Wilsher used a stolen gun to shoot a groundskeeper, narrowly missing a police officer. Detectives also connected him to another shooting a month earlier in Downtown Fort Myers.

This past December, police recovered a stolen assault rifle at an armed burglary in the parking lot of Buffalo Wild Wings in Fort Myers.

And in the recent string of Christmas burglaries in Estero, deputies recovered one stolen gun. Rodriquez knows all it takes is one.

"We take every crime very seriously you know, a stolen car, a stolen bike, I mean it's someone's property, stolen gun it's a little more of a zinger because now I have something out there that can actually hurt someone or kill someone."

In the case of Club Blu, it was 2 teens killed.

Officers fear it won't be the last time a heart broken friend, like BJ, makes the same plea for the trend to stop. "I have dreams about him sometimes. I know he's still there, still up there watching us. I miss him." BJ says he will spend the rest of his life telling Stef'an's story.

Meanwhile, the Fort Myers Police Department has ramped up efforts to crack down on crime. They also have a gun buy-back program where anyone can turn in guns anytime with no questions asked.