Officials are investigating after more than a dozen semi-automatic assault rifles were stolen from a freight train container at a rail yard on Chicago's South Side.
Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Friday that 13 semi-automatic rifles were stolen from the rail yard near 61st Street and Lafayette Avenue in Englewood sometime between the Sunday morning and Tuesday morning.
"Hopefully they're not used in a crime and we can recover them before something happens," Ahern said.
The Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport rifles, equipped with 30-round magazines, were being shipped to a licensed federal firearms dealer in Minnesota and were stolen as they were coming through Chicago, according to authorities.
Community activist Andrew Holmes said he too is concerned about what might happen with the stolen weapons and is demanding the security firm at the scene be removed until the case is resolved.
"I'm totally upset because if that gun is on the street, that assault rifle, with a 30-round magazine, that can do some damage within less than a minute," he said. "At any given moment, even tonight, 30 to 40 people can lose their life in one spot. I’m holding this railroad yard and the company accountable "
Ahern said the ATF is working with the Chicago Police Department and Norfolk Southern Corp. on the investigation, but no suspects had been identified as of late Friday afternoon.
"They're in the wrong hands if they're in the hands of thieves, but we want to prevent guns from moving into more dangerous hands," Ahern said.
Officials have denounced the use of semi-automatic rifles with high capacity magazines in Chicago most notably after a military grade weapon was used in an attack at a Chicago park in September of last year.
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