Car crash into Mercer business associated with gun thefts

Apr. 29—MERCER — Police said it was not an accident Monday morning when a car drove into a weapons store outside the Mercer County Courthouse.

Mercer police said the car traveled the wrong way up North Diamond Street about 5:15 a.m. and crashed into Seconds Count Firearms at the corner of North Diamond and North Pitt streets.

District Attorney Peter C. Acker said the suspects then stole a car in Mercer and fled the scene, leaving the car inside the window.

Mercer Police Chief Robert Davis said no one was injured and multiple people that were in the car fled the scene.

State police, Mercer County detectives, the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Mercer County Sheriff's Office and the Mercer County district attorney's office are assisting Mercer Borough police, who are still investigating.

Acker said he arrived at the scene around 8 a.m. and the car was still running.

Video surveillance shows that five people, all wearing masks, hats, and gloves, were involved. Acker said they stole 10 AR-15 rifles.

The car was reported stolen in Erie. The center console is damaged, Acker said.

Acker said authorities believe this incident is connected to a gun store theft at Duke's in New Castle, where 10 AR-15 rifles were stolen Sunday.

Shenango Township police in Lawrence County are investigating a break-in and theft of guns at Duke's Sport Shop on Route 422 early Sunday.

Shenango Township police chief Darren Cwynar said someone broke into Duke's at 4:21 a.m. Sunday.

He said that the ATF, along with state police, is participating in the investigation.

According to Cwynar, someone entered the gun shop through the front door of the business by smashing the glass window. He said the vehicle used in the theft was determined to have been stolen.

Attempts to reach the owner of Duke's Sport Shop Monday were unsuccessful, and the store remained closed. Cwynar said search warrants were being served, but he was not specific as to the nature of those warrants.

Acker said the ATF was called in because the crimes may be connected and, since the store was a federally-licensed firearms dealer, the theft would be a federal crime.

Acker said another crime connected to the two crimes happened a couple of days ago in the Pittsburgh area. He's not sure how many firearms were stolen in that case.

"I hope we catch these guys," Acker said. "I don't like stolen guns on the street — especially automatic assault weapons."

New Castle News Staff Writer Debbie Wachter contributed to this report.

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