(Jasper County, S.C.) – Investigators with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office are searching for some thieves they say stole 18 handguns from Palmetto State Armory in O’Katie early Thursday morning.
Investigators found the range’s alarm system blasting, and the door and some counters shattered around 1:30 a.m. Some neighbors say the thieves’ method of driving their pick-up truck through the range’s store’s front door to get in is no new scheme; it’s what the two men took that neighbors call alarming. Now, some are bearing arms to defend themselves.
Ridgeland resident and ‘Stop the Violence’ group leader Charles Mitchell says he is taking no chances. He is licensed to carry, and he says that is what he will do to protect himself, since he heard of the 18 guns being stolen from Palmetto State Armory.
“It’s against the law for you to carry and possess a weapon if you don’t have the proper permits, proper training. It’s against the law for you to do that, and there’s consequences,” Mitchell says. “I mean, one gun can do so much damage in the hands of the wrong criminal.”
On Saturday, some wooden boards marked the place where the two men broke into the range’s store. Jasper County Sheriff’s Office Major Donald Hipp says surveillance video shows the men left their truck carrying a sledge hammer and a tote bag. He says the sledge hammer was used to shatter the counter, and the guns were taken within three minutes.
Mitchell just hopes the guns taken from the store can be found soon.
“We need to do what we can to get these guns off of the streets,” he says.
His ‘Stop the Violence’ group hopes to work with law enforcement in the future to do a gun buy back program. As for the latest burglary, there have been no arrests made yet. The bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is also investigating the case.