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Stolen guns, like one used to kill Tarpon Springs officer, routine at crime scenes

It’s not known how Marco Antonio Parilla Jr. got the gun police say killed Kondek.
It’s not known how Marco Antonio Parilla Jr. got the gun police say killed Kondek.
Published Dec. 25, 2014

The gun investigators say was used to kill Officer Charles Kondek in Tarpon Springs early Sunday was stolen four months earlier from an unlocked Honda Accord on the outskirts of Jacksonville.

That detail is not surprising to those in law enforcement.

"Rarely if ever do you see people who have bought a gun responsibly killing a cop," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. "That never happens."

Late at night between Aug. 4 and 5, thieves cased cars parked along Wind Cave Lane, according to an incident report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The next morning, at least four people in the subdivision of $150,000 homes awoke to find their vehicles burglarized. One was a 30-year-old analyst from an aircraft repair company who had left a Glock 27, 10 rounds of hollow-point ammunition and a pair of prescription Ray-Bans in his sedan. All were missing. Investigators circled the neighborhood, but most residents said they had neither seen nor heard anything.

From there, the $650 pistol traveled across the state and into the hands of a 23-year-old man with a history of drug arrests. Marco Antonio Parilla Jr. was proud of the gun. He flashed it to friends at a party Saturday night, according to Gualtieri.

Hours later, authorities said, Parilla fired a series of shots at Kondek, a 17-year-veteran of the force who had responded to a 2 a.m. noise complaint at 199 Grand Blvd. One round struck the officer just above his bulletproof vest. Parilla drove over Kondek's body as he fled.

The exact details of how Parilla acquired the Glock may never be known, but the general account — of a firearm stolen from a car and trafficked across the state, undiscovered until tragedy struck — is not uncommon.

"I hate to say it, but it's not going to be the last time," said Kevin Richardson, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tampa. "It's just the circulation of firearms that are out there right now."

People in Florida get handguns three ways, he said. Buyers in search of a brand new weapon go to a store and submit to a background check and waiting period. Others go to a gun show where there is no background check. The rest buy their guns underground, where the weapons often were stolen from a car or a home, Richardson said.

"Guns can just go back and forth within the state because it's just so easy," he said. Of all guns stolen in Florida, .40-caliber and 9mm pistols turn up most often in later crimes, according to Richardson.

The ATF traced 18,662 firearms in the state in 2013, and 10,341 of them were pistols.

Though the agency is careful to note that not all guns used in crimes are traced and not all guns traced are used in crimes, the 2013 figures shed some light into where illegal weapons turn up in Florida. More than 10,000 firearms in 2013 came from within the state, and 2,029 turned up in Tampa. Another 543 were recovered in St. Petersburg, and 1,813 surfaced in Jacksonville.

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But Richardson said the locations are mostly random. There is no pipeline from Jacksonville directly to Tampa Bay, and it may prove impossible to figure out where the Glock was between Wind Cave Lane and Parilla. "It could have passed several times," Richardson said. "It could have passed once. You really don't know unless he tells you."

Parilla may have had a friend who traveled to Jacksonville and bought the gun, or it may have passed randomly through acquaintances. At some point, the weapon might have been traded for drugs, Gualtieri said. But the sheriff said he is convinced other people were involved along the way.

"Parilla's not the one who broke into that guy's car in Jacksonville and stole this gun," he said.

At the time of Kondek's murder, Parilla was wanted on an arrest warrant for violating probation. He was released from state prison earlier this year and had allegedly shown up on Grand Boulevard to confront someone he thought had snitched on him.

The original owner of the Glock could not be reached Wednesday. A man who answered the cellphone at a number listed for him told a reporter it was the wrong number and hung up. And while authorities seized the gun Parilla used to kill Kondek, there are many more on the streets.

Another man, Jareem Roach, 24, who shot at Parilla as he fled, was arrested Monday and charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon. Gualtieri said Roach's 9mm, found in an attic area during a search of his apartment Wednesday, was stolen, too.

"Jareem had the 9 and (Parilla) had the .40," the sheriff said. "A recipe for disaster, and both of them got them illegally."

Contact Zachary T. Sampson at zsampson@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson.

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