East Hampton teenager and his grandfather accused of building ‘ghost guns’

EAST HAMPTON — Police have arrested a local teenager who they say built “ghost guns” – including one modified to fire like a machine gun – with the help of his grandfather.

Clayton Hobby has been charged with three counts of possession of an assault weapon, three counts of criminal possession of a pistol and a single count of criminal possession of ammunition, East Hampton police said.

The 18-year-old was also charged with making a machine gun, possessing large capacity magazines and risking injury. He was being held on $250,000 bond.

East Hampton police on Monday said they were contacted by “a concerned citizen” who said she learned at a party over the weekend that an adult “in the neighborhood had built an AR-15 firearm. after purchasing parts online,” according to a press release and police report.

Police identified Hobby as a suspect and “discovered that Hobby was aided by his grandfather, Kerry Schunk,” police said in a news release.

Police said they seized several “ghost” AR-15 rifles in various states of assembly at Hobby and Schunk on Mountainview Road “including one that has been converted to fire fully automatic”.

Both rifles bore fictitious serial numbers, according to the incident report.

Ghost guns are home made guns, often from kits that require owners to drill out unfinished parts of the firearm’s frame—the part that is legally the firearm—to assemble them into a working firearm. Kits to build ghost guns can be purchased online. Their name comes from the fact that the kits do not include a serial number, which makes the weapons more difficult for law enforcement to track when used in crimes. Under state law, residents can still make firearms at home, but must first acquire a serial number from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Safety.

Owning or building an automatic firearm—meaning more than one cartridge is chambered and fired per trigger pull—is strictly regulated by federal and state laws.

East Hampton police said in addition to the rifles, three polymer handguns were also found, along with 15 “high capacity” magazines and 1,000 rounds.

Once arrested, Hobby told police he purchased the weapons and tools from various websites, according to the police report. He said he had no intention or intent to hurt people, but built the armory to protect his family, according to the police report.

After police received the tip from the concerned citizen on Monday, Schunk, 64, walked into the police department to “ask some questions about the legality of building an AR-15” with his grandson. Schunk told police he hoped to build the gun with Hobby and wanted to make sure he was doing everything legally, according to the police report.

He added that his grandson had received an inferior AR-15 in the mail several months before. Schunk saw it didn’t have a serial number, so he “smashed it with a hammer and threw it away,” the police report said. After his arrest, Schunk told police it was a lie, according to the report.

He told police that he and Hobby had not received any additional gun parts or firearms built since then.

After police asked Schunk to provide a written statement, Schunk stood up and said he would bring Hobby to the police station to explain himself. He then left the police department in a hurry, according to the police report.

Police then became concerned that Schunk was attempting to destroy the gun and attended their home on Mountainview Road. At home, the officer saw Schunk walking home and he told the officers “I have some things to take care of”.

The police told Schunk he had to say if there was an illegal AR-15 in the house. Schunk said the gun was in a shed and got Hobby out of the house.

“It’s all mine,” Hobby immediately told police, according to the police report. “My grandfather had nothing to do with it.”

In the hangar, police saw a silver AR-15 sitting on top of several full backpacks. Police said the firearm had a “roughly constructed or homemade lower receiver” and other features such as a pistol grip, detachable magazine and flash suppressor. Nearby, police found numerous other AR-15 parts and a holster, according to the incident report.

In a backpack there was a black lower receiver for an AR-15. The lower receiver had a buffer tube, a folding stock, a pistol grip and a detachable magazine. Police noticed an automatic trigger, which allows the weapon to fire more than one shot per pull of the trigger, installed in the rifle, according to the police report.

“The addition of these parts made the weapon a machine gun,” the incident report said.

Inside the same backpack, police also found another AR-15 lower receiver without a serial number. In another backpack, officers discovered a metal ammunition box filled with a large bag of rifle ammunition, according to the police report.

A third backpack contained “a myriad of gun parts and gun tools that could be used to complete the construction of AR-15 assault weapons,” the incident report said. , along with ammunition and two unregistered pistol lower receivers, according to the police report. .

In the office of Hobby’s room, the police found more parts and tools, as well as high capacity magazines and a book with instructions on how to make poison, guns, bombs, the conversion of semi-automatic weapons into machine guns and other information, according to the police report.

In one of the drawers was a bag of metal ball bearings, an empty camping propane can, and a suspicious long black cylindrical object that was hollowed out but covered in electrical tape. The item had two brown wires protruding from each end. Police later declared the object non-explosive and safe, according to the police report.

The police reported that they also discovered a bulletproof vest with a bulletproof vest.

Hobby later told police he purchased all of the guns from various websites. Although he said he knew guns were illegal, “he thinks guns are cool and he finds gun laws tyrannical,” the incident report said.

He also told officers that he had no desire to make a bomb and that he had “no plan or intention to hurt people”, the police report said. “He said he built his arsenal to protect his family and he said he often felt a bit paranoid.”

Schunk told police he thought Hobby was a good boy and “didn’t believe Hobby had bad intentions,” according to the incident report.