PRINCETON, Maine – Five handguns stolen from a gun shop in Columbia were recovered Wednesday by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
One of the missing handguns was found by the department’ s dive team stuck in the muck in a marshy stream on the South Princeton Road.
A camouflage-colored Baretta 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun that was not part of the theft also was found. Part of its serial number had been filed off, and deputies are looking for the gun’ s owner.
Two more handguns also were found Wednesday in an overgrown area behind Marden’ s Surplus and Salvage Store on Main Street in Calais. The fourth and fifth handguns were found in Baileyville late Wednesday afternoon, according to police.
A total of 12 guns were taken during an early morning break-in July 28 at the Four Corners Rod and Gun Shop. A gun case was smashed and the handguns were taken. Two of the guns were recovered over the weekend, and a third was recovered Tuesday.
“I was contacted by a person and I met with that person, and that person returned a firearm to me, and it was one of the handguns stolen and there were no questions asked,” Deputy Tom Chambers of the Washington County Sheriff’ s Department said Wednesday of the handgun returned Tuesday.
As of Wednesday evening, four of the stolen handguns were still unaccounted for.
Although Washington County Sheriff’ s Sgt. Travis Willey is the primary investigator in the case, Chambers has helped spearhead the recovery of the handguns in eastern Washington County.
Arrested over the weekend in connection with the break-in were Aaron Flood, 18, of Calais Jeffery S. Croman, 20, of Baileyville and brothers Chad E. Robinson, 23, and Joshua H. Robinson, 20, both of Charlotte. They have been charged with burglary and theft of firearms. Flood also was charged with aggravated criminal mischief. They appeared in 4th District Court in Machias on Monday.
Bail for the four men was set at $10,000 each, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. The two Robinsons remained in the Washington County Jail in Machias on Wednesday.
Standing on the side of the South Princeton Road Wednesday morning, Chambers said he had received a tip that deputies would find one of the handguns in the stream.
“At that point I activated the Washington County Sheriff’ s Department dive team, and we met this morning at the stream,” Chambers said.
Dive Master Dennis Dorsey, working with an underwater metal detector, searched the murky bottom and quickly found the handgun. Deputies later confirmed it matched the description and serial number of one of the guns taken in the theft.
Dorsey’ s search also turned up the shotgun.
“At this point we do not know who it belongs to,” Chambers said. The dive team wrapped up their search around 10:15 a.m.
They then moved their investigation to Calais. Acting on a second tip, the deputies searched an overgrown area behind Marden’ s Wednesday afternoon and found two more handguns. The fourth and fifth guns were found later in Baileyville.
Chambers said the sheriff’ s department was working aggressively to get the handguns off the street.
“People realize that it’ s a public safety issue for everyone, not only for law enforcement but for the citizens themselves,” Chambers said.
The deputy noted that anyone who cooperated with police would not be charged.
“[But] if we end up tracking the gun down to someone’ s house … they will be facing criminal charges by the Washington County Sheriff’ s Department,” Chambers said.
Assisting Dorsey and Chambers were Deputies Josh Rolfe and Ralph Pineo. Officer Shawn Donahue of the Baileyville Police Department assisted with the search on the South Princeton Road.