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More details emerge in stolen evidence case

More details have come to the surface in an alleged criminal conspiracy that was putting hundreds of guns stolen from the Selma Police Department’s evidence vault back on the streets.

A former evidence technician, 34-year-old Adrianne Michelle Canterbury, her husband, 43-year-old Richard Canterbury, and an acquaintance, 32-year-old Candice Ledbetter Byrum, are facing charges for allegedly running a gun mill.

“If there was ever a picture-perfect conspiracy case, this is it,” said Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier as he addressed the media Friday.

“If [Alabama] had a racketeering statute, this would probably fit it. This is a criminal conspiracy, and more importantly, it’s a criminal organization that has carried out putting guns on the street.”

Collier said the former evidence technician’s supervisor, who oversaw the evidence vault has been placed on administrative leave.

“He has been placed on administrative leave and has a resignation date. I initially accepted it, but in light of the new evidence, we’re going to change that to a termination,” Collier said.

People that purchased guns from them have also cooperated with authorities and are turning the guns in. Collier said at least a dozen citizens have turned in guns since the Times-Journal broke the story Thursday.

Collier also revealed Friday that federal agencies are actively involved in the investigation, and there could be additional charges.

Mayor Darrio Melton also commented on the corruption case Friday.

“Trust is everything, and hopefully the trust of the community has been won over to see not only are we policing inside the community, but we’re also policing inside of the police department,” Melton said.

“Hopefully this will help build trust. We want to make sure citizens in Selma feel like that we hold ourselves more accountable than we hold the public.”

According to Collier, Adrianne Michelle Canterbury was responsible for stealing more than 200 guns from the evidence vault. She was hired in November 2016, and the thefts are suspected to have taken place between then and February.

The gun mill was uncovered after tips led the department to conduct surveillance on Richard Canterbury. After a traffic stop and a field interview, he was brought in for another interview and has cooperated with the investigation.

Collier said search warrants were executed on the Canterbury home and a rented storage unit. More than 200 guns, which were taken from evidence, were found in the locker. Additional weapons were also found in the home.

“What we found there was probably the largest stash of guns from a criminal perspective. It was a little overwhelming to see that amount,” he said. “There may be others that weren’t [taken from evidence] but we’re trying to work that. The bulk were taken out of the evidence room.”

Collier said Richard’s role in the criminal operation was as an armorer, repairing guns to be sold. Byrum is accused of listing them online for sale.

According to Collier, a bulk of the guns were condemned, so they had been in evidence for up to 17 years. Only one so far has been linked back to a pending case.

“It’s unfortunate that one or two bad apples has tainted this department and has possibly tainted cases,” Collier said.

One of the guns Canterbury is accused of stealing was used in an April 14 homicide. It ended up in the hands of 19-year-old Ratravious Sanders, who is charged with murder, after Canterbury allegedly stole it and traded it.

Collier said he plans to adopt a procedure to destroy condemned guns in a timely manner. The department has also rekeyed the evidence vault, put up security cameras and put in a digital system to help keep track of evidence.