News10NBC Investigates: Blacked-out crime gun report links violence around Officer Mazurkiewicz murder to Georgia pawn shop
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – One of the guns recovered by police after the murder of Rochester Police Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz is linked to a pawn shop in Atlanta, Ga.
The official trace on the gun was blacked out in Rochester’s crime gun report the night before it was released in June.
But the authors didn’t redact the footnotes.
And that’s where News10NBC’s Berkeley Brean found the story.
“Uncovering The Truth About Rochester Crime Guns” was commissioned by the City of Rochester and written by Brady United Against Gun Violence.
The footnotes for one of the blacked-out pages near the end of the report take us two places. First – a pawn shop in Atlanta.
And second – two murder cases in Rochester, including the violence surrounding the murder of Officer Mazurkiewicz.
Footnote 38 is a link to a New York Daily News story in 2010 on Arrowhead Pawn Shop in Atlanta. The story reports that Arrowhead was the leading out-of-state source of crime guns recovered by the New York Police Department.
“I just want to see if you’re aware of the report that links Arrowhead to these two local murders, including the violence around the murder of a Rochester Police officer,” I said to the owner when he I called him.
Over two phone calls this week, he told me he’s “aware” of the link and he’s “honestly sorry about it.”
“We take no pride in that,” he said. “We do care.”
I took the redacted report and the footnotes to RPD Chief David Smith
Berkeley Brean, News10NBC: “Can you help me understand the link?”
Chief David Smith, Rochester Police: “Well, I can’t talk specific cases. I can tell you that pawn shop in Atlanta was on the radar for ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) – our federal partners – simply because of a report like this that showed a large number of crime guns not only in New York but in other states were sold at that location.”
At the opening of Vickers’ murder trial, Assistant District Attorney Perry Duckles listed five guns tied to Vickers and the murders of Mazurkiewicz, Ricky Collinge and Myjel Rand.
Only one was traced to Arrowhead. Footnotes in the gun report don’t provide any links to the other four.
For more than a year, I’ve been asking pastors, police, and politicians, “Where do the crime guns come from?” and “Do we have a right to know?”
The Brady report was supposed to answer the question, but the pages with the answers were redacted at the last minute.
So that’s when I went to the footnotes and found links to Arrowhead Pawn Shop.
“How do you think it is that a gun that’s sold at your shop ends up here involved in the situation?” I asked the owner.
“We’ve been here a long time and we want to comply and anytime this happens we’re saddened. There’s no joy in that. It’s not want we want,” he told me. “But when we sell a gun legally and it turns up in someone else’s hands, we have no control over that.”
Data shows Arrowhead renewed its federal firearm license this year.
“Day to day, we’re taking guns off the street here in Rochester,” Chief Smith said. “And, unfortunately, a significant amount of those crime guns were sold legally in other states and then transported here to New York.”
In 2021, 2022, and so far in 2023, RPD recovered 2,446 guns in the city.
The crime gun report finds that a small number of gun dealers account for a majority of crime guns recovered in Rochester and most are out of state.
The redactions in the report were made at the request of the ATF.
When I asked the ATF about the connection between local murders and the pawn shop, the ATF said, “We can’t comment on ongoing investigations or provide trace information.”
A 20-year-old federal law, called the Tiahrt Amendment, prohibits that.