Sentences handed down in gun thefts

Published 4:59 pm Saturday, October 7, 2017

Two out of three men arrested in May for breaking into Safford Tire and Hardware and stealing a few dozen handguns have been sentenced in federal court.

Jabriel Bell, 25, and Fortune Hoppins, 35, were sentenced to 46 months and 57 months in prison respectively by Chief United States District Judge Kristi DuBose in the Southern District of Alabama.

According to an announcement made by United States Attorney Richard W. Moore, Bell and Hoppins pleaded guilty in July. Bell pleaded guilty to stealing firearms from a licensed dealer, and Hoppins pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms.

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Stanley Young, 28, was also arrested in the case and pleaded guilty on Sept. 19 to being a felon in possession of firearms. Young’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 22.

The trio broke into the hardware store on May 10 early in the morning before the store opened. Surveillance cameras in the store captured the break-in on video.

At the time of the burglary, Captain Mike Granthum with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said more than 50 guns were stolen from the store.

“[The video] showed two subjects forcing their way into the business. They were calm, real calm, real collected, not in too big of a hurry,” Granthum said. “It shows them rambling through the guns basically picking what they wanted, putting them in bags and gracefully for a lack of better terms walking out of the store.”

Hoppins, Bell and Young were identified as suspects by law enforcement, who also found several discarded items of clothing nearby the store.

Bell was located the next day and admitted to burglarizing the store with Hoppins and Young.

According to Moore, Bell helped investigators locate 23 of the stolen firearms in a bag in the woods near the store. Hoppins was located later that day in possession of one of the stolen guns. Young was arrested in early June in New York.

The trio was also arrested last year for allegedly robbing West Alabama Bank in Marion at gunpoint. The Safford Hardware and Tire burglary happened while they were out on bond for the robbery.

They have not gone to trial for the robbery charges yet.