A Belleville man and woman were charged Friday with buying and selling guns after police searched their Caseyville motel room and found numerous guns, assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
The St. Clair County Sheriff Tactical Drug Unit searched the Motel 6 motel room of Shawn C. Holland, 33, and Cara L. Anderson, 32, of Belleville on Oct. 11 following a search warrant.
In the room, police found “several assault rifles, multiple hand guns, 38 fully loaded (30) round .223 magazines, thousands of rounds of loose rifle ammunition and a level IV bulletproof (vest),” according to a press release.
“In light of everything else that’s been going on, with Vegas, with various shootings across the country, this was highly unusual for them to be in a motel room on the third floor with all these guns and ammunition.” St. Clair County Sheriff Richard Watson said Monday.
Along with the handguns and rifles, police also obtained several sound suppressors, high-penetrating bullets and a paper book with the cover “AR-15 to M-16 Conversion Book.”
Holland made some of the guns himself, Watson said, by buying gun parts and putting them together into full firearms. Watson said it is legal to make guns this way but it becomes illegal when you sell make-shift guns, even if it is to a legal gun owner.
“A lot of them are homemade guns — you can buy these receivers, which are called 80 percent receivers, on the internet and you drill them out and make them into fully functional guns,” Watson said. “These could blow up in your hand.”
One of the issues with these homemade guns, Watson said, is that they have no serial numbers so they cannot be traced.
“If they go to sell these guns to a legal gun owner, they’re automatically a felon by buying it. It’s kind of like a quirk in the law that we have to deal with,” Watson said.
Watson said the law needs to change to deal with these loopholes.
“The law needs to catch up with it, this is what we deal with,” Watson said. “I didn’t know you could do this prior to us finding these guns. We learned a whole lot about guns and personally manufacturing guns that I didn’t know before.”
The investigation began when police received a tip about the weapons being kept at the Caseyville motel. A search warrant was obtained Oct. 11.
Warrants for Holland’s and Anderson’s arrests were issued Oct. 13. Both were at St. Clair County jail as of Monday afternoon with a bail of $750,000 each.
Holland was charged with four counts of possession of a gun with proper firearm ownership identification and one count of possession of ammunition without ownership identification.
Anderson was charged with five counts of unlawful ownership of a gun by a felon.
Watson said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is taking over the investigation and there will likely be more charges filed against Holland and Anderson at the federal level that cannot be filed by the state.