Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
A weapon similar to the M16 pictured here went missing from the LA County Sheriff's Department in February 2013, an department spokesman said Aug. 13, 2013. Photo credit: ATF
An M16 rifle recently revealed to have gone missing from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been unaccounted for for six months, the department’s spokesman said Tuesday.
“It’s an embarrassment. It’s wrong. We’re gonna get to the bottom of it,” Steve Whitmore said.
Able to hold a 30-round magazine, the rifle went missing in early February, Whitmore said.
It was given to the department by federal authorities as a surplus weapon – one that federal agents were no longer using, but could be helpful to local agencies.
When a weapon comes into the department that way, its serial number is accounted for, but Whitmore said a paper trail of where that weapon goes is not created.
“This, apparently, has not been occurring this time, and so we have to fix that,” Whitmore said.
In an internal email sent to department supervisors, Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers chided the leaders, telling them to "turn over every single rock, every single stone top find out where this weapon is," Whitmore said.
Until the rifle is recovered, the sheriff’s department has been suspended by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services from getting anymore federal property, he said.
Whitmore emphasized that “nobody is at risk,” and the weapon was likely misplaced.
“We do not think it’s criminal. We think we’re going to find it in a locker. We think we’re going to find it in the trunk of black and white,” he said.
“We think somebody has taken the weapon and just – I hate to say this – forgotten about it.”
Details about where the rifle went missing were scarce. Whitmore said the department would reveal those specifics – and the “mistakes” leading up to its disappearance – when the weapon is found.
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