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Officials looking for rifle that fires same ammo as sniper's

A Pa. amn was charged with buiyng the rifle at an area store with a bad check, police said.

A Pa. amn was charged with buiyng the rifle at an area store with a bad check, police said.

October 10, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania State Police and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents are looking for a rifle bought in Franklin County, Pa., that fires the same caliber ammunition as one used in the Maryland-area sniper killings, a state police spokeswoman in Harrisburg said Wednesday.

State police in Chambersburg said there was no link between the sniper killings and the 45-year-old Chambersburg man who bought a .223-caliber rifle in a Fort Loudon sporting goods store in early September.

The man was being held in Franklin County Prison on $20,000 bond on theft by deception charges for allegedly paying for the rifle with a bad check, police said.

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He was charged with theft by deception for paying for the guns with a check from a closed account, state police spokeswoman Kristal Turner-Childs said.

He told investigators that he has since sold the rifle, but doesn't know to whom, Turner-Childs said.

ATF agents sat in on state police interviews with the man, police said.

Investigators concluded that he had no connection with the Maryland sniper incidents that have left six dead and two wounded in the past week. The shooter was still at large Wednesday.

The Chambersburg man bought the used .223-caliber rifle along with two other rifles at Keystone Country Store at 186 Path Valley Road, Bill Zeger, co-owner of the store, said Wednesday.

He might not know the identity of the person to whom he sold the rifle, Zeger said.

"People sell guns at yard sales. You don't need a background check to sell a long gun," he said.

Zeger said the man "comes in the store all the time. He bought guns here before."

Zeger didn't remember how much he charged for the gun. "I sold it to him for a decent price so he could have made a few bucks when he sold it."

The caliber is not popular with hunters, he said. "Some guys use it for deer, but it's a small-caliber, short-range gun. It's mostly a varmint rifle."

Zeger said state police came to his store investigating the bad check case against the man. ATF agents called Tuesday to ask questions about the sale of the rifle, Zeger said.

"They reacted a lot more than normal," Zeger said. "They're just doing their job. They have to look at everyone, at least I hope they are. Everybody wants them to catch this guy. We want him stopped."

Derek Baliles, spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department, said police are checking anyone who recently bought a .223- caliber rifle as part of the ongoing investigation into the sniper killings. Most of them occurred in Montgomery County.

"So far we're pursuing 1,400 leads," he said.

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