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Tracking illegal guns used in crimes, Columbus police seeing firearms stolen from cars

FILE - Guns seized by Columbus police displayed during a press conference on gun crime. June 28, 2022. (WSYX)
FILE - Guns seized by Columbus police displayed during a press conference on gun crime. June 28, 2022. (WSYX)
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You'll spot family homes, a gas station, and even a free food market near the intersection of Whittier and Parsons on the South side. But, it has also been the site of an active police investigation.

On May 6th, Columbus Police responded to multiple shootings.

On that Saturday overnight, a lot of attention was on the Short North as chaos played out along North High.

But a few hours later, David Davis was killed near Whitter and Parsons, shot just before 5 a.m.

"Unfortunately, this one was kind of buried because you had the Short North shooting that night, and then you had five people shot in the northern side of the city," said the Fraternal Order of Police's Brian Steel.

As police investigate multiple shootings, ABC 6 Investigates is continuing our series of stories looking into the impact of violence in Columbus and all the perspectives at play.

"We all love our city...we need to come together and have some serious, serious discussions, not just pointing the fingers to other people or other political parties because that's doing nothing for us," said Steel.

Steel shared his law enforcement perspective: what are police seeing right now?

"The burnout rate is so high because it's nonstop. The calls for service do not stop. The violent crime does not stop, and certainly, the shootings or homicides are not getting any better," he said.

We've heard a lot about illegal guns.

"They're being pulled out of a waste can, get pulled out of a car, getting pulled out of a sock drawer on a search warrant. They're either stolen guns or from individuals who are not even supposed to possess a gun in the first place. These will be a felon or underage," said Steel.

Where are these guns coming from?

The Columbus Police team says they are encountering more people that have illegal guns on them than in past years.

ABC 6 Investigates is told the vast majority of guns are purchased legally, but CPD is investigating or tracing how they get into criminals' hands, whether through straw purchases or theft for example.

They also say they are seeing a lot of guns stolen from cars and advise legal gun owners to secure their firearms.

ABC 6 asked Steel that same question.

"We just saw a gun store robbed not too long ago, right? Fifty guns were stolen. Guns stolen out of cars, guns stolen out of houses. I guarantee you, walk around his neighborhood right now, there's probably someone selling a gun somewhere illegally," he said.

Eric Delbert, a gun store owner and law enforcer, echoes a similar observation.

"Very easy on the streets. On the street, we hear that if you go in certain parts of the town that it is extremely easy to come across these stolen firearms," said Delbert.

Delbert believes certain steps could make an impact on crime.

"Look, let's do a PSA announcement that if that gun is not in your immediate possession, it needs to be secured. We need to stop the flow of guns to the street that is happening illegally," he said.

Illegal guns are not the only concern.

Mayor Andrew Ginther has called out deadly shootings involving domestic violence.

Data from Columbus Police shows 12 of 65 homicides as of May 22 are likely linked to domestic violence.

"The background check system is only as good as the information put in. We have had cases where someone has put in a protection order that doesn't get put in quick enough, and the husband comes in and purchases a firearm. That is not acceptable in today's environment. We should be on top of that," said Delbert.

He hopes for even more action to tackle these issues.

"Let's solve it rather than having these scenes that play out time and time again going into summer," he said.

A suspect has been arrested in that deadly shooting at Whittier and Parsons and at last check is in jail.

As of last week, mid-May, Columbus Police have recovered 1,250 guns.

CPD shared this data as of April 2023:

Firearms Submitted to the Property Control Unit

  • Year-To-Date Total 1099
  • 245 Total Submitted for Month
  • 47 Found
  • 6 Voluntarily
  • 9 Safe Keeping
  • 51 Search Warrants
  • 14 Evidence – Misdemeanor
  • 118 Evidence – Felony

In general, the CPD team says they are seizing more guns, the majority are as evidence for a felony or homicide.

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We are going to continue to bring you these stories digging into the impact of gun violence. You can see the first story in this series here, where a mother who lost two children to gun violence shares a message of change.

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