Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 4, 2012

Teen a suspect in case of stolen handgun


TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities are investigating the theft of a handgun from a vehicle in Garfield Township and what role three teens played in the incident.

The investigation involves two 14-year-old Traverse City males and one 16-year-old male, Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department Capt. Dave Meachum said.

A Sheriff's Department detective located the gun, a .40 caliber semiautomatic, at about noon Monday in Traverse City.

"We're pleased to get (the gun) buttoned up in the Sheriff's Department basement and off the street," Meachum said.

Law enforcement first learned about the crime after one of the teen's fathers reported Facebook posts about the stolen firearm.

One of the 14-year-olds told investigators he took the pistol from the vehicle about two weeks ago. He intended to give the gun to the other teens, Meachum said.

The registered owner of the pistol did not realize the firearm was gone until investigators contacted him.

The three youths attend Traverse City Central High School. They haven't been at school since law enforcement authorities contacted Traverse City Area Public Schools officials about the investigation Nov. 29.

"When we have a situation like this, the students are suspended pending the outcome of the situation," TCAPS Associate Superintendent Jayne Mohr said.

The weapon was never on school property, Meachum said. School Principal Rick Vandermolen sent an email Monday to parents regarding the investigation.

"TCAPS has zero tolerance for any weapons on school property," Vandermolen said. "Law enforcement was present at Central High School (last week) and has been on campus (Monday) as the investigation continues."

School officials said they didn't notify parents of the investigation sooner because they didn't want to compromise the police inquiry.

The Sheriff's Department forwarded information about the investigation to the Grand Traverse County prosecutor yesterday. Charges have not been filed against the teens, and the investigation is ongoing.