2 charged in theft of 123 guns from Benton Twp. sporting goods store

Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 11:59 AM EST
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BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WNDU) - Two men are facing federal charges after police say they kidnapped the manager of a sporting goods store in Benton Township and stole 123 guns last week.

In a joint press conference on Tuesday afternoon, officials say the kidnapping and robbery was carried out last Thursday, Nov. 16, but lasted into the early hours of Friday, Nov. 17, at the Dunham’s Sports store at 1000 E. Napier Avenue.

The whole thing allegedly began with the kidnapping of the store manager — not from the store, but from outside his own home.

Officials say the Benton Township Police Department received a 911 call from the store manager of Dunham’s Sports at around 2 a.m. on Friday. He allegedly told police that two unknown people approached him outside of his home just before 10 p.m. on Thursday and held him at gunpoint. He was then blindfolded, handcuffed, and placed in the back of his own car.

“The defendants then drove the manager to an unknown area and threatened the manager with a gun to his head until the manager disclosed the passcode for the security system at the sports store and then told them how to access it,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten.

One of the suspects then stayed with the manager while the other left. That’s when surveillance video shows the other suspect entering the store around 10:40 p.m., disabling the alarm system, and filling two blue Yeti wheeled coolers with handguns before leaving

According to officials, 123 handguns in total were missing from the store. The weapons were put on display during Tuesday’s presser.

Officials: $100,000 worth of guns were headed to the streets.
Officials: $100,000 worth of guns were headed to the streets.(WNDU)

“Just look at the fire power on this table. You’ve got 100 guns that were headed to the streets of Grand Rapids, to the streets of Detroit, Lansing, Benton Harbor, across the state,” said James Deir, special agent for ATF Michigan. “Just think about it. That is amazing if you think about just where these guns are headed and the damage they could potentially do in our communities.”

As for the theft, the thieves managed to get the guns out of the store, but not much further.

According to court documents, the big break in the case came in the form of a failed attempt to use the store manager’s CashApp account. That’s what helped police quickly ID the suspects.

“One of the defendants allegedly used CashApp to try and send money from the manager’s debit card to another CashApp account,” Totten explained. “Although that transfer failed. likely because of a misspelling, the attempt helped lead authorities to Dontrell Nance.”

That break led police to a red Dodge Durango with two blue Yeti coolers inside, and that led to the arrests of brothers Dontrell Nance, 25, and Darnell Bishop, 33.

Dontrell Nance and Darnell Bishop
Dontrell Nance and Darnell Bishop(Berrien County Records)

According to court documents, police cracked the case in a span of about 12 hours.

“We received a call just after 2 a.m. and I could say by 2 p.m. we had the firearms recovered and suspects apprehended,” said Benton Township Police Detective/Sgt. Tyler Tiefenbach.

Police do say this case was certainly cracked in time to limit the damage. Of the 123 guns that were stolen, police have recovered all but one. Officials say they had a street value approaching $100,000.

“These are easily sold on the streets,” Deir said. “There is a huge market by prohibited persons, felons, mentally defective folks, illegal aliens. There’ a whole litany of folks who can’t buy these legally. There is a black market out there.”

Tiefenbach also said the quick recovery of the guns was a huge success.

“Had these guns gotten out into the streets, it would have been very detrimental,” Tiefenbach said.

You can rewatch the press conference in its entirety in the video below:

The robbery was carried out at the Dunham’s Sports store at 1000 E. Napier Avenue.
The robbery was carried out at the Dunham’s Sports store at 1000 E. Napier Avenue.(WNDU)

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