TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In recent months stolen guns have wound up on the streets after bold break-ins in the Tampa Bay area. These weapons are now in the wrong hands, used to kill people.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ranked Florida as one of the top three states for guns recovered in crimes, behind number two Texas and California.
In fact, the Tampa Arms Company, located at 4023 W. Waters Ave., is still boarded up after 35 guns were stolen the week after Thanksgiving. ATF agents are still on the case, trying to track the stolen weapons. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says one of those guns was used to take the life of a young mother over the weekend.
Kendra Lewis was only 27 years old, mom to two small children. She was looking forward to going Christmas shopping with her little ones. Lewis was shot in the face in front of her 5-year-old daughter in Orange County. Two teenage suspects were busted in Polk County.
Sheriff Judd told News Channel 8 Lewis’ life was taken with a gun stolen from the Tampa Arms Company.
Both teams have rap sheets a mile long, according to the sheriff. In a news conference over the weekend, Judd listed the crimes. “Battery, domestic violence, obstruction of justice, robbery with a firearm, resisting arrest … disorderly conduct, trespassing, violation of probation. How is he not locked up?” the sheriff asked.
Judd admits he is both fired up and fed up. “Florida is the third most populated state in the nation. There’s 20 million people here,” he said. “Guess what, newsflash, we’re going to have more criminals.”
The sheriff said these cases leave him both heartbroken and frustrated. “These criminals want guns; they’re not going to gun shows to buy them. They’re stealing them. Newsflash, if you have a gun store, at the end of the business day, put them in a safe,” he said.
Judd offers this advice to all gun store owners. “Double down on your security. You want your customers to feel safe in your gun store. And, certainly, you don’t want guns in the hands of criminals,” he said.