One man is in custody in connection to a heist of 36 firearms from a local Anchorage gun store last week. Two people were seen breaking into the store and hauling away the weapons.
The federal investigation stemming from the theft has led to at least one arrest so far, with Seth Kaufman, 31, facing multiple theft charges.
Following the crime, a $10,000 reward was offered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for information leading to an arrest. In charging documents, authorities say they were contacted by a confidential source, who supplied them with information regarding the theft.
The source told investigators that Kaufman and another male known as “Chris” came over in a pickup truck with a “bag full of firearms,” which they then tried to sell to the source. “The tipster stated he/she remembered seeing the press release about the stolen guns and opted not to purchase any,” authorities say.
Kaufman fled from police on sight on Monday, when they contacted him near Motel 6 on A Street.
According to police, he jumped out of a second story window, leaving another occupant, Brittney M. Bell, inside the building. At that time, law enforcement found a rifle wrapped up in a towel under the hotel’s window, along with three pistols. All four firearms, investigators say, were reported stolen by EDC Alaska, the firearm retailer on Northern Lights Boulevard which had reported being robbed the week before.
A short while later, a K9 unit was able to locate Kaufman, who was then arrested by police.
The other suspect remains at large. In a statement issued by APD, “Detectives continue to search for suspect two and strongly encourage this person to turn themselves in.”
In charging documents filed in federal court, employees of EDC Alaska said a man resembling Kaufman was in the store days prior and set off some red flags for them.
They told authorities that he appeared “suspicious” and that he asked them if he could purchase a firearm without showing them his identification. They said he “looked at the firearms and stated that he wanted to make a purchase, but that he had no identification as his wallet because his wallet was in his vehicle, which had been seized by police.” That man was wearing a distinct hoodie, which police later identified as being worn by Brittney Bell after they entered the hotel room.
On surveillance footage, the business was seen being infiltrated by two individuals driving a black truck. One person in the footage seems to be wearing the sweatshirt.
The other person in the footage has not yet been arrested, however in the court document, authorities say the confidential source also identified Christopher Kratsas-Derr from a photo line-up, coinciding with his claim that a “Chris” was with Kaufman the night they tried to sell the pistols.
As for how many of the stolen firearms have been recovered, that number remains to be seen. Aside from the four found near Kaufman’s hotel room, no further weapons have been reported as having been recovered.
Juan Cruzaley-Phillips, an owner of EDC Alaska, said that they have not yet been contacted by authorities following the arrest. “We’re not sure what guns have been found or are still looking for,” Cruzaley-Phillips said. “They’re not telling us that much yet.”
Jason Chudy, a public information officer for the ATF, said that they are “trying to get these guns off the street as soon as possible and we want to make sure that the public is aware of that and they’re aware of the reward.” Chudy said they are still looking for the remaining 32 firearms.
Chudy reiterated the implications of 32 firearms potentially entering the black market: “The safety of your community is at stake here.”
The full list of firearms and corresponding serial numbers were published on EDC Alaska’s official Facebook page.