Police detail arrest of 4 involved in weapons, drug thefts

Weapons and ammo confiscated by the Casper Police Department after they captured four people involved in drug and weapon thefts. (Brendan LaChance, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. – Police held a press conference to discuss the arrest of two adults and two juveniles in a weapons and drugs arrest.

The weapons were stolen from area unlocked vehicles, according to police.

Nine guns were confiscated in the case. Police say three are confirmed stolen and four are suspected of being stolen.

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These include both handguns and hunting rifles. Two hunting rifles were not shown at the press conference as police say they’ve conducted efforts to return them to owners as it is hunting season.

Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters encouraged people to not leave weapons in unlocked vehicles, adding that the stolen weapons would likely be used in committing crimes.

He added that so far in 2019, there have been 26 cases of firearms stolen from unlocked vehicles.

“Those firearms are going to be used for no good purpose,” said McPheeters.

McPheeters said most stolen weapons charges are considered misdemeanors, and asked legislatures to increase the seriousness of these sort of crimes.

“Do not leave guns in your vehicles,” Police Spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd said.

Police officials encourage people to lock their firearms in secure locations on their property. They are also encouraged to write down the serial numbers on their firearms so that this information can be reported to law enforcement in the case that the weapons are stolen.

Regardless of what is in their vehicles, people are urged to lock them, particularly at night.

Police spokesperson Rebekah Ladd talks during a press conference on Thursday morning in Casper. (Brendan LaChance, Oil City)

The two adult males arrested are Austin Taylor, 20, and Justen Kushner, 19, both of Montana.

The names of the two Casper juveniles arrested in connection with the case are not being shared by law enforcement.

Police officials said that confessions have been obtained from all four suspects.

Police say that their investigation started after responding to a motorist assist call on Oct. 1. When responding to this call, they say they found “multiple stolen guns and felony amounts of illegal drugs.”

During the traffic stop, police smelled marijuana which initiated their investigation.

23.6 grams of cocaine and over a gram of methamphetamine packaged for resale was discovered during the course of the investigation.

In addition to the drugs and stolen guns, at least one stolen bullet proof vest, several laptop computers and an Xbox gaming console were discovered as well.

Police say that at least one out of state stolen firearms case is suspected to be connected with suspects in the Casper case. They declined to share where that investigation is taking place.

At this time, the suspects are not facing federal charges, according to Sergeant Joey Wilhelm.

The police department issued a statement on Wednesday, Oct. 9. Charges facing the suspects are as follows:

  • Austin Taylor:
    • one misdemeanor charge of stolen property
    • two misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance, marijuana
    • one misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, hydrocodone
    • one felony charge of possession with intent to deliver, hydrocodone
    • one misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, morphine
    • one felony charge of possession with intent to deliver, morphine
    • one misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, alprazolam
    • one felony charge of possession with intent to deliver, alprazolam
    • one misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon
  • Justen Kushner:
    • one misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine
    • one felony charge of a controlled substance, cocaine
    • one felony charge of possession with intent to deliver, cocaine
  • First juvenile:
    • aggravated burglary
  • Second juvenile:
    • one felony charge of wrongful taking or disposal of property
    • one felony charge of aggravated burglary
    • one felony charge of aggravated auto burglary