ROCKVILLE, Md. - A Montgomery County gun shop owner, while grateful criminals did not get into his business, is warning other business owners to be on alert.
One of the owners at Engage Armament in Rockville told FOX 5 his gun shop and another in Virginia were both targeted in the same weekend – and he believes the same suspects are involved.
Engage Armament is also the same gun shop where the other co-owner, Andrew Raymond, was arrested and charged with shooting at a Montgomery County police officer in an unmarked police vehicle last December.
Raymond apparently believed the unidentified officer was actually a criminal – his attorney said at the time their business had been informed by law enforcement they could be targeted as officials continued to investigate a string of gun shop burglaries in the region.
Last winter, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced they were investigating at least five attempted and successful gun shop burglaries between Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties from Nov. 19 to the 28.
The two most recent incidents, an attempted and successful gun shop burglary, appeared to have happened about two weekends ago.
"Our biggest concern is that these guns don’t get into the wrong hands," said Engage Armament Co-owner Carlos Rabanales. "We try to do everything the right way – to do everything we can to keep them out of the wrong hands. Still, people have their rights, you know, to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but we do want to keep the guns out of the wrong hands."
Multiple images of a recent attempted break-in were posted to Engage Armament’s Instagram page, where you see at least two male suspects making it into the common area of the building that houses Engage Armament. However, the suspects did not make it past the actual gun shop’s metal doors and metal roll-down gate.
"I mean, it was scary to kind of see that," Rabanales said on the attempt. "Just thankful that the measures we have in place were successful."
Carlos Rabanales, co-owner of Engage Armament
Rabanales told FOX 5 their business is following the law on how a gun shop is required to secure its firearms. Still, they're now looking at increasing security measures, including tying down all guns.
Rabanales is also asking for the public’s help in keeping an eye out.
One of the two suspects appearing in Engage Armament’s surveillance video is wearing a very distinct pair of sneakers that look reddish, similar to a high-end designer model, if real. That same suspect is also wearing a Nike mask.
Rabanales believes the Nike mask-wearing individual is the same person Dominion Defense caught on Ring camera video just before at least four suspects stole over 50 hand and long guns from the Springfield, Virginia gun shop.
Time stamps on Engage Armament’s video record show their attempted break-in happening on Sunday, April 30. Fairfax County Police say the successful Springfield burglary happened the day before, in the 3 a.m. hour of Saturday, April 29.
Fairfax County Police Lt. James Curry tells FOX 5 the department is investigating whether the two incidents are connected.
"Anytime you have one gun stolen is a problem. When you have more than 50, that’s a serious problem and that’s why we take it as serious as we are – we immediately partnered with ATF," said Curry, who called the suspects brazen – noting they continued with the crime knowing they were being filmed.
Curry also noted how young the suspects appeared. However, it’s not clear yet whether those involved are young adult males or juveniles.
On Tuesday, the ATF working with Montgomery County police announced the increased reward of up to $15,000 leading to an arrest in two other incidents involving a different Rockville gun shop burglary, Atlantic Guns.
FOX 5 obtained video of that incident late last year when you see the aftermath of a car being rammed into the storefront of Atlantic Guns. On camera, multiple suspects could be seen running away with what appeared to be rifles in hand.
No arrests have been made in any of these cases yet.
Anne Arundel County did arrest two teens caught in an incident involving Scott's Gunsmithing in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
"Both juvenile suspects, one a 16-year-old male from Silver Spring and the other a 14-year-old male from Gaithersburg, were arrested and charged accordingly," a previous press release from the ATF read.
From Fairfax County Police:
Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding this incident or others to call our detectives at our West Springfield Police District at 703-644-7377. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web –Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App and follow the steps to "Fairfax Co Crime Solvers". Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.
From the ATF on Tuesday:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division and Montgomery County Police Department are offering a combined reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest of individuals responsible for burglaries and attempted burglaries of federal firearms licensees (FFLs).
On November 19, 2022 at approximately 3:55 a.m., Montgomery County Police Department officers responded to an alarm at Atlantic Guns located at 15813 Frederick Road, Rockville, Md. Upon arrival officers observed a vehicle on the sidewalk that was later determined to be stolen. After review of surveillance footage, investigators learned that multiple suspects had unsuccessfully attempted to ram the stolen vehicle into the store to gain entry. No property was stolen.
On November 25, 2022, at approximately 1:00 a.m., Montgomery County Police Department officers responded for a burglary in progress at Atlantic Guns located at 15813 Frederick Road, Rockville, Md. Upon arrival officers observed a vehicle on the sidewalk which was later determined to be stolen. After review of surveillance footage, it was learned that suspects used the vehicle to ram the business and four suspects gained entry successfully. They stole seven pistols and five rifles. They fled the area with two additional suspects in awaiting vehicles.
ATF and Montgomery County Police Department continue working diligently to identify the individuals responsible for these crimes, recover these firearms, and are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the persons responsible.
If members of the public have information about any of these gun store burglaries, we urge them to call ATF at 1-888-ATF-TIPS. They can also call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 866-411-TIPS (8477). A combined reward of up to $15,000 is available for information that leads to an arrest.
ATF is the lead federal law enforcement agency that investigates robberies and burglaries of federal firearms licensees. When a robbery or burglary occurs at a federal firearms licensee, they are obligated to notify ATF and ATF becomes involved in the investigation, working alongside our local law enforcement partners who have authority in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. ATF Special Agents respond to the scene with our local partners to begin working the case from an investigatory perspective. ATF is also the federal agency responsible for regulating the firearms industry, so ATF Industry Operations Investigators may also respond to assist the dealer with doing an inventory of their firearms to ensure an accurate assessment is made of what was taken.