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M-16 rifle missing for 8 years found in deputy's home

Published: Friday, April 18 2014 2:59 p.m. MDT

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FARMINGTON — A yearlong investigation into a missing M-16 rifle from the Davis County Sheriff's Office has led investigators to the home gun safe of a deputy who apparently forgot he had it.

The gun was discovered missing after a federal audit in 2013. But officials admit it likely had been set aside and forgotten about since 2006.

That year, a deputy and SWAT team member, whose name was not released, requested to take an M-16 rifle for training. Not long after, the deputy, who is also a member of the U.S. military, was deployed to Afghanistan, said Davis County Sheriff's Sgt. Susan Poulsen.

Before leaving for a year and a half, he put the assault rifle in a gun safe in his home. The officer reportedly owns several guns that he stores in the safe, and the M-16 apparently got pushed toward the back and was forgotten.

The M-16s were given to the sheriff's office as part of a U.S. Department of Defense program. It wasn't until an audit was conducted in 2013 that officials realized the weapon wasn't accounted for.

Furthermore, the officer who had the gun went on a second tour of duty.

"According to the employee, he has not thought about that rifle since 2006. During the investigation, partially because there was a lack of paperwork, and partially because of human error, the employee never heard about an investigation into a missing M-16 rifle," the sheriff's office wrote in a prepared statement.

After hearing recent news reports of the missing M-16, the deputy checked out his gun safe on Friday, found the weapon and called his supervisor, Poulsen said.

The officer now faces possible disciplinary action. Poulsen said others involved might also be disciplined. But, because of the incident, corrective action had already been taken, she said, including policies requiring weapons to be signed out to individual officers rather than assigning weapons to a patrol vehicle.

Poulsen called the M-16 case an "isolated incident" that happened because of a "fluke of events" and a "series of errors" that inexplicably included the lack of a paper trail. The sheriff's office does not believe there was any criminal intent behind the missing gun. It was just an odd case that "fell through the cracks," she said.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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