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Judge says teen accused of building "ghost gun" must hand over all firearms

Andrew Byrd.jpg
Posted at 5:38 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 17:36:42-04

UPDATE (August 9) — The Lee County Sheriff is responding to the judge's decision to order all guns from Andrew Byrd.

We asked the sheriff what they're going to do to ensure Byrd hands over all his weapons.

"Now we have to physically make contact and make sure we’re taking those firearms," Sheriff Carmine Marceno said. "Now, that’s not to say that that person doesn’t access another firearm somewhere else."

Under Florida law, the Sheriff's Office can go and get the weapons from Byrd. If that's not possible or isn't required because the respondent is at the protection order hearing, the law says Byrd can physically bring his guns and ammunition to the Sheriff's Office.

In this case, Byrd was not at the hearing, but he had already been served with the petition for the order prior to the hearing. We asked the Sheriff's Office what deputies plan to do in this case and we're still waiting to hear back.

ORIGINAL STORY — A Lee County judge ordered an 18-year-old to hand over all his guns and ammunition. This was in response to a petition for a risk protection order filed by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

The department claims Andrew Byrd is a danger to himself or others, a statement made in the petition filed on July 29. The petition comes a week after LCSO says a gun, built by Byrd, accidentally killed a 17-year-old girl.

In court documents, the lawyer representing the Lee County Sheriff's Office says Byrd built what's called a ghost gun. This is when you buy parts online and build a gun with no serial number, which is illegal in Florida unless you register the gun.

For this reason and many others, LCSO said Byrd should not have any guns, which was also the case before the deadly shooting happened.

In court on Monday, Judge Lee Schreiber granted the risk protection order. Byrd was not in court, but the judge did order a mental health evaluation alongside the approval. This has to be scheduled in seven days and completed in 30 days.

The petition says, "Although known weapons have been confiscated, the fact that he manufactures ghost guns makes it impossible to confirm that he has no other weapons." Court documents state Byrd must hand over all guns and ammunition and cannot get them back until August 2023.

The discovery of the ghost gun came on July 18. The Sheriff's Office went to Byrd's Lehigh Acres home for a death investigation. Documents say a 17-year-old girl accidentally fatally shot herself. Byrd told detectives he built the gun used in the shooting.

The LCSO petition goes on to say they also found a video on the girl's phone, showing Byrd pointing a gun at someone and laughing.

The problem LCSO's lawyer argues is Byrd, or anyone living at his home, is not supposed to have a gun. Byrd was on juvenile probation dating back to a January 2022 Florida Highway Patrol case involving two drug charges and having a gun, which documents say was also a ghost gun.

Following the deadly shooting, Byrd was only arrested for juvenile probation violation for possessing a gun.

It's a gun he absolutely cannot have right now. According to Florida law, he has three days to give it all up to the Sheriff's Office. We reached out to the Sheriff's Office about the approval of the risk protection order and how they plan to make sure Byrd complies with the order. A spokesperson says there will be a press conference Tuesday morning to address this topic.

A risk protection order is somewhat new. The Risk Protection Order Act is also commonly known at the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, enacted on March 9, 2018. Under a portion of the law, it restricts someone from possessing a gun or ammunition if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

There will be a compliance hearing to make sure he gives up all the guns and ammunition, but that can be canceled if he hands them over prior, state law says. The judge also said no three-day hearing is needed.

It's not clear if Byrd will be in court next time there is a hearing, but the judge says she would like to talk to him to see what services they can offer in order for him to "be well."