CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. - Law enforcement officials in Carter County are giving a big sigh of relief after recovering most of the guns recently stolen from a rural gun shop.
Two arrests were made, plus it may also lead to solving other gun thefts in the county.
Melvin Oliver, owner of Blue Springs Gun Shop, looks over a picture of the guns recovered by the Carter County Sheriffs Department. Most of them were stolen from his shop on December 1 while he and his wife were at church.
Two arrests have been made -- 19-year-old Joshua Wade Ray and a 17-year old juvenile.
The sheriff's department has been working non-stop on the case since it was reported. "We were able to infiltrate people that were buying and selling these guns. We were able to purchase one of the guns, which led to a second purchase. [Total we had] undercover purchases of six guns," Sheriff Chris Mathes said.
"It was actually through the public. We got some anonymous tips that led us in the right direction," Captain Jeff Markland added.
Deputies say the suspects in the case had surveyed the gun shop for a couple of weeks and actually made a purchase late in the day for some ammunition. "I had just taken the money out of the cash register. They came in and gave me a hundred dollar bill for a box of ammo. I thought, 'I'm going to have to get in the cash box.' I didn't like doing that in front of them. The only drawer that was broken open was the one with the cash," Oliver told us.
But officers tell us not all of the guns from the shop were his -- some of them might be from other burglaries in the county. "We've also identified some guns from other burglaries. We think we're going to be able to clear up at least two other burglaries in addition to this one," the sheriff says.
The department says they are happy they were able to get this amount of stolen weapons out of the hands of criminals.
The sheriff's department is continuing to investigate and hopes that those who may have inadvertently bought some of the guns will come forward.