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Silent auction for guns from the property room?

Ellettsville police, Monroe County sheriff's office selling confiscated guns in auction

December 21st. 2023

ELLETTSVILLE − Among the 54 guns displayed on long tables at U.S Defense Solutions is a non-functioning 1930s Smith & Wesson top-break pistol, a Mossberg pump-action 12-gauge shotgun and a pair of matching Thompson Center Arms' muzzleloaders with brass inlay on the butt plates.

This week, the Richland Plaza gun shop is hosting a silent auction of guns that were evidence in now-closed cases from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and Ellettsville Police Department. Owner Caleb Goldsberry said none of the weapons were used to commit crimes; those guns, he said, are cut into pieces and destroyed.

Bids are being taken in person at the store, 4625 W. Richland Plaza Drive, through 5 p.m. Dec. 23. Monday afternoon, the first day the guns were on display, a steady stream of people came and went from the small store next door to Subway.

"We've already got a fair amount of bids. About an hour before it ends Saturday, this place will be packed with people checking theirs," Goldsberry said. Participants are qualified to bid once they pass an online background check.

Ellettsville Police Department sells guns for first time"Just in time for Christmas!" announced a promotion for the event on the Ellettsville Police Department Facebook page that featured Santa Claus, wrapped gifts and decorated-pine emojis.

Goldsberry said his store had a similar auction for the sheriff's department last year that raised about $4,000 for the agency. The money goes back to the departments and is used for firearms equipment and training.

Ellettsville's police department provided about half of the guns being sold this week.

"This is the first time ever putting guns into an auction. Some of these have been in storage here for years," EPD Detective Lt. Zachary Michael said.

When he took over the evidence room at the station last year, one of Michael's first projects was to sort through weapons being held and try to return some to their owners or heirs.

"We did some research trying to find owners or next-of-kin owners and have been pretty successful," Michael said. "A lot of them can't be returned because of a felony conviction attached to them."

Michael said the department has this year returned a dozen or more guns to owners or their families. A few weeks ago, a gun confiscated as part of an investigation was given to a relative of the owner, who had died.

"The man who came and picked it up knew everything about the gun."

The lieutenant said he's not worried about selling guns at auction, putting them back into human hands. "The store owner does background checks and the sales are legal," Michael said. "We don't have any concerns."

Bidding is in person at Richland Plaza gun store

The guns are laid out on tables, a tag with an item number attached to each. There's a sheet of paper with each one where bidders indicate the price they are willing to pay. In addition to 42 handguns and 12 long guns, there are three scopes for sale.

Jordy Minnick from Owen County stopped by the store unaware of the auction. He was surprised to see the assortment of guns, calling the scene "a candy store for big boys." He admired No. 3156, a heavy, long-barreled Smith and Wesson revolver with a smooth wooden grip. Minnick, just looking, said he might return to place a bid.

Most of the guns, such as a Heritage Rough Rider 22-caliber revolver, a Raven Arms P25 in a tiny leather holster and that top-break Smith & Wesson, all had $25 bid minimums. But the gun Minnick had his sights set on started at $250, and would be much higher by the bid closing on Saturday.

This is the second year Goldsberry's store has auctioned guns for the sheriff's office; they sold 35 confiscated guns last year.

"It gives people a chance to buy these guns, and it makes money for the police departments, so it's a good deal all around," Goldsberry said.

Bloomington police have confiscated guns destroyed

Instead of selling its confiscated guns, the Bloomington Police Department contracts with a private firearms destruction company that, for no cost, takes the guns away.

They are cut into pieces, with some components sold for reuse and others destroyed. The guns themselves can never be used again. In return, police departments get paperweights made from recycled gun parts mixed with acrylic that's hardened in a shot glass.

"Any weapon that legally cannot be returned is destroyed," BPD Capt. Ryan Pedigo said.

During a DV investigation cops find stolen firearm...
The Lieutenant did what?
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