Twice in less than two weeks, Mountain View Police Department officers have arrested individuals in connection with crimes associated with so-called ghost guns, firearms that are not properly registered and that typically lack identification marks like serial numbers so they can be tracked.
The most recent incident occurred early Monday (Oct. 19) morning and involves a handgun officers recovered from a playground, according to a department press release. Witness reports of a suspicious vehicle parked on the 800 block of Yardis Court attracted MVPD officers to the scene just after 6 a.m. Once there, they encountered four males – two adults and two minors – and three of the suspects were smoking cannabis within a car. A search of the vehicle and the suspects revealed numerous bullets, a loaded, unregistered handgun and a loaded handgun magazine belonging to a second, missing handgun.
“During their search of the area, officers found a loaded handgun with an extended magazine containing multiple rounds that appeared to have been tossed over a fence into a playground area next to the suspects’ vehicle,” the release stated.
Yardis Court is a short road that runs alongside the Highway Community’s Mountain View campus, 2050 Miramonte Ave., and police spokeswoman Katie Nelson confirmed officers located the gun in the church playground.
Officers arrested the four suspects on charges related to carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a loaded firearm in public and carrying a loaded firearm not registered with the California Department of Justice. The press release did not identify the suspects, citing “further investigation into crime possibly associated to the suspects and/or removed firearms.”
A missing license plate helped tip off a Mountain View police officer during a separate investigation earlier this month.
At approximately 9 p.m. Oct. 10, an officer watched a man on a motorcycle without a plate ride into a parking lot on the 600 block of Showers Drive, according to a department press release. The man the officer identified as the rider returned from a store as she inspected the bike, but he denied any connection to it. Suspecting the vehicle was stolen, the officer detained the man, and she discovered a loaded firearm without serial numbers within his jacket as well as tools typically used to start a motorcycle without a key.
Subsequent investigation helped the officer identify the suspect as Jerry Guailbeaux, a 40-year-old Palo Alto resident, and the motorcycle as stolen from East Palo Alto, the release stated. Guailbeaux now faces numerous charges, including carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in public, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools.
“This was great work by our patrol officer,” said MVPD Capt. Saul Jaeger, according to the release. “Her intuition that led her to further investigate took an illegal weapon off the streets.”
The California penal code requires the engraving of unique serial numbers upon firearms within 10 days of their manufacture or assembly. Violations can lead to fines of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment spanning between six months and a year depending on the type of weapon involved. Each firearm discovered without a serial number constitutes a separate infraction.
“Ghost guns are everywhere – these two incidents are not related that we are aware of, but unfortunately these types of weapons are far more common that most are aware of,” Nelson wrote in an email to the Town Crier Wednesday.