An AR-15 stolen from a parked vehicle in Paradise Valley last week belonged to the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, a sheriff’s spokesman said Thursday.
Prosecutors say Brendon Brimmer, 18, last week planned the theft of the rifle, at least one pistol and two ballistic vests from parked vehicles. His alleged co-conspirators, who are 15 and 17, had not been charged in the case by Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators recovered the weapons and vests last week.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Shatto, who also serves as a spokesman for the agency, confirmed Thursday that the rifle belonged to the agency. He said a deputy left the gun in a sheriff’s office vehicle that is used for travelling long distances, which — unlike its patrol trucks — does not have a secured compartment for storing weapons.
“We admit the deputy made a mistake and it was addressed,” Shatto said, without offering details. He said the agency was pleased law enforcement had recovered the rifle.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer, who is handling the case, told the Star-Tribune on Wednesday that the office had not yet decided how to charge the two younger teens and he would have to consult further with the Casper police detective working the case. The prosecutor said the gun and ballistic vests belonged to local law enforcement, but he said he was not sure which agency.
Last week, Schafer said the prosecutor’s office was considering charging the two younger teens as adults.
In court documents filed last week, prosecutors said police found a revolver, a semi-automatic pistol, the AR-15 and two ballistic vests in the children’s homes. All of the weapons named in court documents — save for the semiautomatic pistol — had been reported stolen by April 24. The documents state the juveniles implicated Brimmer in the thefts, which they said they carried out the night before. Police had initially recommended the District Attorney’s Office charge Brimmer with two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of conspiracy.
On Thursday morning, Brimmer appeared in Natrona County Circuit Court wearing jail garb for a scheduled preliminary appearance. His court-appointed defense attorney, Kurt Infanger, asked Judge Michael Patchen to push the hearing back to May 9, saying prosecutors intend to add at least one more charge to the case file.
Infanger did not specify during the court appearance what additional charge he expects his client to face or the nature of the associated allegation. Patchen agreed to move the hearing.
Brimmer is already on probation for similar burglaries, Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk, who was handling the court appearance for Schafer, said Thursday in response to a defense request to modify bond. Patchen, however, agreed to change Brimmer’s $25,000 cash-only bond to allow him to hire a bondsman. In Natrona County, bail bond agents typically require defendants to pay 15 percent of the total bond amount.
Editor’s note: This article has been modified to more clearly reflect Shatto did not say how the sheriff’s office addressed the issue.