Beach police investigating gun found under backseat of cruiser
By DUANE BOURNE, The Virginian-Pilot
© January 25, 2007 | Last updated 12:04 AM Jan. 25

VIRGINIA BEACH - Police are investigating how a handgun that might have been used in a robbery wound up under the back seat of a police cruiser for nearly two weeks before anyone noticed.

Police spokeswoman Rene Ball confirmed that the department has launched an internal investigation into what she called a "serious" safety violation.

Because the incident is a personnel matter, Ball said she is prohibited from commenting on whether the officer assigned to the vehicle has been placed on administrative duties.

The incident raises questions about how a suspect could get into the back of a police car with a gun and how the gun could have gone undetected for so long.

The security lapse was reported Jan. 2 - 12 days after police arrested 18-year-old Angel Mitchell and three juveniles suspected of robbing the Village Inn restaurant on Independence Boulevard at gunpoint.

According to a search warrant affidavit, Officer B.T. Smolin checked the back seat of his assigned cruiser before his shift Jan. 2 and found a small silver semi automatic handgun underneath the cushion. A detective investigating the incident thinks the recovered handgun was the one missing from the robbery.

On Dec. 21, two males wearing masks flashed guns inside the restaurant, stole money and took off in a car.

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During a traffic stop at Virginia Beach Boulevard and Witchduck Road, police searched a maroon Mitsubishi and recovered one handgun that they think was used in the holdup.

Police think one of the male suspects passed the second weapon to a 17-year-old girl seated in the front seat before they were all removed from the car and placed in separate police vehicles, according to the search warrant affidavit.

The girl could have stuffed the handgun under the seat of the police car while en route to the detective bureau, the affidavit said.

Police are trying to determine whether the gun is connected with the robbery. DNA samples were taken from the 17-year-old girl, according to the affidavit.

Ball said police officers are trained to search the vehicle interior and exterior compartments before and after their shifts.

She said officers also are trained to thoroughly search each individual being transported, including females and juveniles, for weapons and contraband that could place an officer or the individual at risk.

As an added security measure, some officers search their cars after individuals are transported.

Ball said the issue of whether Smolin searched his vehicle after taking the girl to the detective bureau is part of the internal investigation.

"It will be handled appropriately," Ball said. "If we need further training for officers, that is what we'll do."

• Reach Duane Bourne at (757) 222-5150 or


Comments 1 - 2 of 2

Nothing new there (hide comment)
As someone who worked there for twelve years I can tell you that evidence is found under the back seats of cars all the time. I have personally found drugs and weapons. I even found a twelve inch kitchen knife under the rear of my driver's seat. You are supposed to search your car and check the car over at the beginning of the shift. Problems start when you are rushed out the building due to understaffing and calls holding. The supervisors want you on the street "now"! Officers will skip certain things. You are supposed to check the fluids and certain items under the hood also and for required equipment in the trunk. If you watch closely behind one of the precincts at the start of a shift you won't see many officers open the hoods. I would take the time to check all the needed items and would receive grieve for it as I was taking too much time. I would find the damage on my car and the items that needed to be fixed and any missing or damaged equipment.
- Ted M. - Virginia Beach Nothing new there (view comment)

Police Officer Placed the Gun of Them (hide comment)
This isn't the first time police have resulted to these type of tactics.
- Harold J. - hampton Police Officer Placed the Gun of Them (view comment)

Comments 1 - 2 of 2

Officer's loaded gun found by inmate

05:42 PM EST on Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reported by: Wayne Carter
Click to watch video

An internal investigation is underway into why a Va. Beach police officer's loaded gun was left in a building, only to be found by an inmate on work detail.

Sources told 13News that a female police captain at the Law Enforcement Training Center left her loaded gun in the bathroom about two weeks ago.

Sources also said an inmate on work detail went to clean in the building, found the gun and turned it in to the office.

Police would only confirm that officials are reviewing the incident report from the sheriff's dept.