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Franklin County Sheriff's Office recovers deputy's stolen rifle, names teen as suspect

Jeff Burlew
Tallahassee Democrat
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. "Tony" Smith announces the recovery of an AR-15 stolen last weekend from a deputy's unlocked patrol car.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has recovered a semi-automatic rifle that was stolen from a deputy's unlocked patrol car.

But the suspect, a 16-year-old boy, remains at large and possibly in the Tallahassee area, Sheriff A.J. "Tony" Smith said Thursday in a live Facebook video.

Smith announced the theft of the AR-15 on Monday, also in a live video, and offered to let the person who stole it walk away without charges if the gun were returned.

But that didn't happen. The sheriff said the firearm was recovered in Wakulla County but didn't give details. He also asked the boy to surrender.

More:Franklin County sheriff tells thief to return deputy's rifle and 'it will be forgotten'

“If he’s seeing this video, if he’d like to turn himself in, feel free to come to the Sheriff’s Office and turn yourself in," he said. "Because we will find you.”

Smith said the Sheriff's Office is obtaining a pickup order for the boy's arrest.

"I think he's in Tallahassee or somewhere," Smith said. "It looks like he's been  trying to avoid us. We talked to relatives (Wednesday) night trying to pick him up, and they were not cooperative."

The sheriff said another child, a student at the K-12 Franklin County School, was involved in the theft. However, the student cooperated with school resource officers and investigators.

"We appreciate that," Smith said. "Truthfulness and cooperation goes a long way."

Meanwhile, Smith said he disciplined the deputy who left his car unlocked and the rifle unsecured. Deputy John Nunez was given a three-day suspension without pay and placed on probation for six months.

Contact Jeff Burlew at jburlew@tallahassee.com or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.

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