Yesterday, it was reported that one of two guns which had gone missing from the 103rd Precinct in the Queens later surfaced at a Brooklyn station house as part of the NYPD gun buyback program. It was ironic enough that police paid $100 for their own gun back—then yesterday, the man who returned the gun was arrested after he willingly and nonchalantly told police officers his story about selling the gun. But was he acting a good samaritan, a braggart, or a thief?
Ronald DeShields walked up to a transit cop with a newspaper article about the theft and allegedly said, "I heard you're looking for me." The cop didn't believe his boasts at first, but DeShields was able to convince him-his fingerprint matched the one lifted off the locker of Lt. Charles Minch, the office for whom the guns belonged. Bizarrely, DeShields also had a video of himself walking into the 90th Precinct, where the buy-back took place, with the weapon in a duffel bag. He claims that he didn't steal the weapons, but had just stumbled across one of them. Charges are pending for DeShields, an ex-con, currently.
Originally, some NYPD sourced believed that the guns may have been stolen by disgruntled officers as part of a "retaliatory prank" because cops were upset about working weekends. Regardless of how the guns were lost, the incident points to serious problems with gun storage by the NYPD. A new audit found that the NYPD Brooklyn Property Clerk Division, which stores guns picked up from crime scenes and service weapons handed in by cops, has serious glaring flaws, including a missing shotgun and a backlog of firearms to be destroyed. And on one wildly inconsistent NYPD report, it was written that the property unit registered 2,729 firearms for 2009, but the monthly reports for the same period added up to only 1,684 guns.