Crime Trackers

Jun 5, 2013 12:08 PM by Lupita Murillo

Stolen weapons a big problem for law enforcement

TUCSON - Stolen weapons hurt everyone.

Each year, ATF tracks dozens of stolen weapons, including one that nearly killed a Pima County Sheriff's Sergeant.

Sgt. Bill Murphy is familiar with stolen weapons, the man who stole one, used it and nearly killed Sgt. Murphy in 2006.

Sgt. Murphy chased 20-year- old Lee Hunt at speeds reaching nearly 90 miles per hour on the northwest side.

"He wanted to kill me," recalls Sgt. Murphy.

Detective J.C. Navarro, who was then a Robbery-Assault detective, also remembers what happened.
"He (Hunt) shot approximately 10 times at the direction where Sgt. Murphy was."

The stolen weapon was like the one Sgt. Murphy and other police officers carry, a semi-automatic 40-caliber Glock, stolen a month earlier from a Foothills apartment complex.

The car was also stolen from another complex down the road.

Det. Navarro used ATF's e-Trace data base to run the serial number of the gun, which led detectives to the last known purchaser.

"That person had reported the firearm stolen," he said. "Fingerprints from the burglary were compared and they matched Lee Hunt."

Hunt pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on a police officer and auto theft. He's serving 20 years in prison. The system is used worldwide. Last year, ATF processed more than 344,000 requests to trace weapons used in crimes.

Sgt. Murphy says, "The ability to find those numbers helps us immensely."

He adds, if Hunt hadn't been caught, no telling how many other crimes that gun might have been used in.

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