A pair of California park rangers recently arrested a Washington man in Hungry Valley state park who claimed the gun and multiple magazines officers found in his truck during a search must have “come with” the recently purchased vehicle.
The rangers didn’t seem to think much of that explanation, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrest records online, which indicate he was taken into custody last month soon thereafter on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm in a public place last month, according to court documents obtained by The Signal.
The rangers were investigating a “reliable report” of a man walking around with a gun in the Smith Forks Campground of the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area in March, according to the documents.
While on patrol, two officers came upon their suspect, a 23-year-old man originally from Canoga Park, who they found driving in a maroon Dodge Ram single-cab truck around 2:45 p.m. March 19.
The suspect gave the officers his permission to search the vehicle, at which point they found a tan “tactical backpack behind the driver’s seat — in (the suspect’s) reach,” according to a sworn statement from a park ranger.
A check of the 9mm Heckler and Koch that officers reported finding inside the bag indicated it was not registered with the state’s Department of Justice.
The investigating officer reported that he then “dropped” the magazine and learned that it was full of ammunition, a violation of state law, and then pulled back the slide and learned there was a bullet in the chamber, which is also a violation, according to court records.
When questioned by the investigating officers, the suspect reportedly told them “the gun must have come with the truck” when he bought it two days earlier, according to court records. The suspect also produced documentation that indicated he had purchased the truck two days prior.
In the backpack, the officer also found ammo designed to penetrate armor, which is considered illegal in California, three 20-round magazines, two 17-round magazines and one 15-round magazine.
Sheriff’s Department arrest records available online indicate the suspect was taken into custody at 3 p.m. March 19 by officers with the California Department of Parks and Recreation in lieu of $35,000 bail.
He was released approximately 24 hours later on his own recognizance, according to LASD records online.
The District Attorney’s Office confirmed two felony charges were filed March 21: one felony count each of carrying a loaded handgun and having a concealed firearm.
He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court May 9 to schedule a preliminary hearing.