Crime

Lancaster trio stole machine guns and grenade launcher, and got caught for littering

What happens to guns stolen in the Carolinas?

There have been about 900 guns stolen in NC and SC so far this year, a record pace. An ATF official said that guns stolen in the Carolinas often make their way to criminals in the North, where restrictive laws make it harder to get guns. By Adam B
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There have been about 900 guns stolen in NC and SC so far this year, a record pace. An ATF official said that guns stolen in the Carolinas often make their way to criminals in the North, where restrictive laws make it harder to get guns. By Adam B

Two felons caught by police for littering who were found in possession of a grenade launcher and machine guns stolen from the Lancaster National Guard armory have been sentenced to federal prison.

Austin Lee Ritter, 23, was sentenced to 87 months in prison, said Assistant U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Stacey Haynes.

Kimberly Denise Cannon, 40, received two years in prison, Haynes said.

Both pleaded guilty to possession of weapons by felons, and possession of a destructive device not registered to them, Haynes said.

A third Lancaster defendant who pleaded guilty to the same charges, Brandon Shane Polston, 32, will be sentenced Dec. 14, Haynes said.

Polston stole the firearms from the Lancaster National Guard Armory. Polston then directed Cannon to take him and Ritter to an area near the Armory, where they retrieved the firearms and other items from a ditch, Haynes said in a statement.

The weapons were found in a Lancaster motel. Searches of their cell phones revealed various photos and text messages relating to the firearms and sale of the firearms.

Police seized a FNH, model M249, 5.56mm machine gun; two Colt, model M-16, 5.56mm machine guns; two Beretta, model M9, 9mm pistols; a Colt, model M203, 40mm grenade launcher; night vision goggles; and other military gear, Haynes said.

Some of the stolen firearms were later recovered in possession of other felons in the area, while other firearms remain missing, Haynes said.

An ATF affidavit in the case shows the weapons were stolen from an unsecured vault at the armory. An armory door also was found unlocked and the weapons racks were unsecured, ATF agents said.

Polston has a history of convictions including burglary, assault and battery, and receiving stolen goods, records show. Ritter has a felony conviction for accessory to a felony. Cannon has convictions in South Carolina and North Carolina, records show.

All three remain in federal custody.

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