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Ottawa police chief urging gun owners to secure firearms after burglary leaves 14-year-old behind bars

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Posted at 9:37 PM, Sep 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-04 23:40:42-04

OTTAWA, Kan. — Ottawa, Kansas, Police Department Chief Adam Weingartner is urging his community to promote firearm safety, highlighting the importance of keeping guns locked away.

“It’s important that if you own firearms to keep them safe, keep them locked up when not in use,” Weingartner said.

His message is particularly relevant after a 14-year-old was arrested for allegedly breaking into a home and stealing weapons.

"I think most firearm owners are responsible, but there is always a chance where a weapon can be taken out of a residence," he said.

The attempted burglary took place Friday at a home in the 700 block of East Garfield Street.

“Friday afternoon, officers were dispatched to a past burglary of a residence and discovered that several firearms and some ammunition, and some other items, were taken or attempted to be taken out of the residence,” Weingartner said.

During the burglary, the suspect discharged a firearm inside the residence. The bullet ended up lodged in the house next door.

While Weingartner says he is thankful no one was injured, he notes that stolen guns tend to end up in the wrong hands.

“They are used in the drug trade, they are sold to facilitate drug transactions, they’re used in other violent crimes. All it really does is increase another opportunity for another innocent person to be harmed,” he said.

He advises the best way to ensure gun safety is to lock firearms in a safe when not in use, which he adds applies to vehicles as well.

“We talk about vehicles being left unlocked and where firearms are not secure in vehicles," he said. "We have had several examples where cars are broken into, guns have been stolen out. We know some of those have been used in other communities.”

Weingartner stresses that responsible gun owners are key to ensuring the safety of the community.

“That is always the balance between keeping your firearms locked up and available when you need them in home defense, and most likely people have weapons that they are not going to use every day," he said. "So maybe those are the ones that you lock up in a safe when they're not being used and only take them out when it's time to use them."