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It began as a dispute over funeral doves. It ended with Nazi memorabilia, guns and an arrest

It began as a dispute over funeral doves. It ended with Nazi memorabilia, guns and an arrest
Detectives found a cache of unregistered firearms as well as a swastika-emblazoned flag and a picture of Adolf Hitler inside a Huntington Beach home on Tuesday. (Laguna Beach Police Department)

What began as a dispute over payment for dove-releasing services at a funeral this month ended with the arrest of a 51-year-old man Tuesday after detectives found an arsenal of more than 50 firearms and Nazi memorabilia inside his Huntington Beach home.

Detectives discovered several pounds of ammunition, along with a variety of guns, including Glocks and rifles — some resembling semi-automatic weapons — locked away in safes, stashed in the garage and scattered around multiple rooms in Mitchell Todd’s house on Cambay Lane, said Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Jim Cota.

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“I don’t even know of any gun dealers that have 50-plus guns,” he said. “Even a collector would have them in one room and dressed up. These were not.”

Detectives already knew Todd had 12 firearms registered in his name when they stepped inside the house with a search warrant and a gun restraining order — which allows law enforcement to seek the temporary removal of firearms from someone they believe poses a danger to themselves or others — about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“Lo and behold, when we went in there, he had a lot more than that,” Cota said. “There’s no doubt he’s a gun guy. The question is what kind of gun guy.”

Some of the weapons had high-tech scopes that retail for several thousand dollars each, Cota said.

Inside Todd’s bedroom — which he maintains separately from his wife’s bedroom in the house, authorities said — detectives found a red cloth flag with a swastika emblazoned on it, a Confederate flag and a picture of Adolf Hitler.

Police began investigating Todd this month after reports that he threatened a Laguna Beach man who hired him to release doves at a funeral for the man’s son. Authorities say Todd owns a business that releases birds during events such as funerals and weddings.

The funeral ran long and the doves weren’t released, but Todd wanted to be paid anyway, officials said. The father refused payment, which set off a series of phone calls between the two men that took a bizarre turn, Cota said.

“The first several conversations were fine, but it started getting more and more aggressive,” Cota said. “During one of the phone calls, he said, ‘Maybe you need to go be with your son.’ ”

After the man received a voicemail with only the clicking sound of a handgun slide being engaged, police got a search warrant for Todd’s home, Cota said.

“At that point,” he said, “we knew we were dealing with somebody who’s got the potential for extreme violence.”

Todd was arrested on suspicion of criminal threats and is undergoing a psychological evaluation at a hospital. Authorities are investigating whether he has ties to any hate groups.

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