Salinas police chief's assault rifle stolen from his unmarked vehicle

The chief of the Salinas Police Department had his unmarked car broken into last week and an assault rifle stolen from the trunk.

Four days later, the department-owned AR-15 had not yet been found, Chief Kelly McMillin told The Times on Tuesday.

“As a career police officer, I’m devastated that this firearm is on the street,” McMillin said.

About 1:30 a.m. Friday, McMillin’s car, parked in an unincorporated area of Monterey County, was broken into, he said. The assault rifle was secured in a gun lock installed in the trunk, but the entire locking mechanism was ripped out of the car, McMillin said.    

“Obviously, I am very upset,” he said. “I had … the industry standard for locking police firearms in police vehicles. It’s not like it was just thrown in the trunk and dependant on the trunk lock.”

Several magazines of ammunition, a ballistic vest, two flashlights and a pair of sunglasses also were stolen from the vehicle, McMillin said. There were several reported vehicle break-ins in the area where his car was parked around the same time, he said. Though his vehicle is outfitted with lights and a radio, it is not an obvious police car, he said.

“My car was not targeted,” McMillin said.

Salinas City Atty. Christopher Callihan told KSBW Action News 8 that he had talked with the police chief and looked into whether he followed department protocols for storing a weapon.

“In my review of the department’s policies and procedures, there does not appear to be any violations as to how that gun was stored,” Callihan said.  

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.

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A suspect, Joseph Edward Twiford Sutton, 28, was arrested Friday in connection with the theft, according to the sheriff’s office. He has been charged with grand theft, grand theft of a firearm and possession of methamphetamine, KSBW reported.

Sutton pleaded not guilty Monday, according to KSBW.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

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