Juneau police are investigating the case of a semi-automatic rifle found in the snow near Juneau-Douglas High School on Feb. 14, the same day as the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
But they don’t believe the abandoned firearm was intended to harm anyone.
Reliable Transfer general manager Tonya Tisher said one of her drivers spotted the rifle bag in the snow on the side of Egan Drive between Juneau-Douglas High School and the Breakwater Hotel.
The driver turned around, picked up the bag, and brought it straight back to their office.
“I opened all the pockets on the pouch trying to find some sort of identification,” Tisher said. “An accident had happened right in that area earlier that morning and we thought maybe it had fallen out of somebody’s vehicle or maybe it belonged to a police officer that had maybe taken it out of his trunk and failed to put it back in kind-of-thing.”
Tisher called Juneau Police Department and an officer later arrived at Reliable Transfer to take pictures of the rifle in the bag and pick it up.
Tisher recalls that he identified it as an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
“I was floored to see the weapon to begin with,” Tisher said. “Clearly, it was a semi-automatic weapon of serious magnitude. The officer said that the scope on it was worth about $3,000 alone. Somebody was definitely missing this weapon. And, it had a serial number and everything on it and that’s how they were able to determine that it was stolen.”
The rifle was unloaded, but accompanied with two full magazines.
Police Lt. Krag Campbell declined to immediately specify the make or model, but he confirmed that it was an AR-15 style rifle valued at about $1,000-$1,500, without the scope.
He said the rifle was reported stolen during a burglary in 2016, and it’s possible the thief was already convicted and sentenced for that burglary.
“There was no indication that the person who left the firearm there on the side of the road had any intention to using that to harm anybody else,” Campbell said. “The police department was not concerned or in a heightened state of security because of finding that weapon.”
Reliable Transfer owner Roger Calloway wrote in an email that it’s unclear whether it was tossed out of one of the accident vehicles by someone who wasn’t supposed to have it, or if it was innocently set off to the side.
As for the timing, he also wrote that he’s sure it was a coincidence.
Campbell said the rifle may be returned to the burglary victim after the investigation is completed.