FAIRFIELD — An AR-15 assault rifle recovered from a gang member after a SWAT team swept a home in Sutter County had been stolen in 2012 from the parked car of a Solano County sheriff’s deputy in Fairfield, law enforcement officials said.
Serial numbers run on the weapon after the Thursday arrest in Sutter County of a 20-year gang member in Live Oak showed Solano County had reported the weapon as stolen, said Martin Horan, commander of the joint narcotics task force in Yuba and Sutter counties called NET-5.
Horan said the suspect told law enforcement he bought the AR-15 – along with a .45-caliber handgun also recovered – but refused to say where. Officials had received information that Noel Ricardo Hernandez, 20, had weapons, Horan said.
Hernandez was being held without bail at the Sutter County jail on allegations that include participation in a criminal street gang and receiving known stolen property.
Deputy Daryl Snedeker, spokesman for the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, said ballistics of the assault rifle will be checked to determine if the weapon had been used in crimes. The rifle is evidence in the Hernandez criminal case, Snedeker said, but when that legal matter is concluded, Solano County can petition the court for its return.
The weapon could have changed hands 10 times since its 2012 theft, he said.
Snedeker said the Aug. 25, 2012, theft of the rifle, from a deputy’s personal car parked in the Chevy’s parking lot in Fairfield, led to a change in policy about deputies taking home assault rifles. The weapon, along with four ammunition clips, the deputy’s wallet, duty bag, ammunition for the rifle and a riot helmet were taken during the night auto burglary.
Horan of Net-5 in Yuba-Sutter said a half-dozen shootings have happened in the past six to eight months and that law enforcement is trying to get weapons off the street.
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