Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

October 4, 2013

Man finds trooper's gun, takes it home

KALKASKA — Trouble followed the discovery of a handgun in a Kalkaska grocery store restroom, but not for a Michigan State Police trooper who left the fully loaded firearm atop a toilet paper dispenser.

A Fife Lake man who found the weapon, Timothy Alan Flanagan, 49, could face a 10-year prison sentence after authorities said he failed to report a gun he found inside the Kalkaska Family Fare supermarket.

State police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said an off-duty trooper from the Wayland Post in Allegan County used the restroom inside the supermarket on May 20 and accidentally left the gun behind. She said there was no disciplinary action taken in the case and the trooper remains on active duty.

“He certainly had to answer internally for what happened,” Banner said. “He did not face disciplinary action because it was determined to be human error. He didn’t attempt to hide it or cover it up. In this case as soon as the trooper realized he did not have the weapon, he made immediate contact with his commander.”

The Wayland post commander didn’t return a call for comment. A representative at the post referred all questions to Banner, who did not release the trooper’s name, citing union-negotiated protections.

Flanagan doesn’t think it’s fair he faces felony charges of larceny of a firearm and receiving and concealing a firearm while the trooper wasn’t punished, particularly considering the gun was left in a public restroom where a child potentially could find it.

He said he initially thought the firearm was a toy or a starter pistol, but a closer look revealed it was the genuine article: a loaded, .357 Magnum Smith and Wesson handgun.

“I knew it was a professional’s gun,” he said.

Flanagan said he brought the gun home with “all intentions” of calling police, but he feared repercussions as time passed so he left it locked in a shed on his property. He had the weapon for six weeks, then a family member told Kalkaska County sheriff’s deputies about the weapon on July 5.

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