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RETURN OF GUN AND AMMO IS A LOAD OFF OFFICERS’ MINDS

SHARE RETURN OF GUN AND AMMO IS A LOAD OFF OFFICERS’ MINDS

Salt Lake police officials are breathing a big sigh of relief.

The machine gun lost by a SWAT officer last week was anonymously returned Wednesday - complete with 150 rounds of ammunition.The MP5, a fully automatic machine gun, was discovered Wednesday by officer Joe Clark as he arrived at the Sugar House neighborhood office, 2155 S. Highland Drive. The weapon was inside a hard plastic case, along with five 30-round clips.

"He or she just left it in front of the door," said Salt Lake police Lt. Marty Vuyk. "I guess they wanted to make sure there were no questions asked."

The machine gun had been missing for 10 days.

On Jan. 9, officer Craig Gleason put the case on the roof of his car as he was preparing to leave for work. He was apparently distracted by a child and drove off, forgetting about the weapon. Gleason heard something fall off of the car near 8500 S. State but apparently thought it was hislunchbox.

The officer didn't realize the weapon, a Heckler and Koch machine gun, was missing until he returned home following his shift.

Members of the SWAT team had been on special assignments looking for the weapon but had developed no leads. When the Deseret News inquired about the missing weapon and reported it Monday, police officials said they would ask no questions of anyone who returned it.

Vuyk said he believes the weapon was returned because of the publicity the incident received. Whoever had the machine gun may not have known whom it belonged to or that it was illegal to possess it. The gun can be owned only by someone who has a special permit from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Officers had notified schools and businesses in the area where the weapon was believed to have been lost. An unidentified police official, however, had apparently determined not to inform the press and general public about the incident.

"The circumstances surrounding the loss of the weapon are still being looked into and a determination will be made about any disciplinary action" against Gleason, Vuyk said.

"We're just greatly relieved we do have the weapon in custody again."