Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Commercial Scuba Divers Discover "A Whole Bunch of Guns"

There is something eerily "Hollywood" about commercial scuba divers finding dozens of potentially crime-related guns at the bottom of a river.

Divers doing underwater construction on the Chef Pass Bridge said they have found dozens of guns they believe have been tossed into the waterway.

Eagle Diving was contracted by the state of Louisiana to do underwater repairs on the bridge near Venetian Isles. But they’ve been finding more than they expected during their dives.

"We’ve been finding a whole bunch of guns. I’ve never found a gun in the water before in my life. And suddenly we’re finding dozens of them," diver John Bennett said.

Bennett and his divers have found so many guns in the waterway that connects Lake Pontchartrain to Lake Bourne that they’ve stopped bringing them to the surface.

Bennett called police officers after he found the first gun, and said he will call them again to come collect dozens more. He hopes the guns can be used an evidence to reopen cold cases.

"If one of my kinfolk had been killed by one of these guns, I would hope somebody would turn something in," Bennett said.

The guns are badly deteriorated from sitting in the water. Officers told Bennett too much damage had been done that investigators would probably not be able to conduct ballistics tests on the weapons.

But upon further research, it appears these guns were likely some of thousands of weapons sent to a watery grave by New Orleans Police Department back in the 1950s.

As a young radio technician for the New Orleans Police Department in the 1950s, Bob Falcon was told by a friend that he ought to see what was happening on the bridge over Chef Menteur Pass.

So Falcon and other technicians took a detour while working on a radio tower in the area and watched as NOPD officers and trustys shoveled guns from pickups through the drawbridge and into the water below.

"It was an interesting thing to watch, no big deal about it," Falcon said. "They were getting overloaded in the property room and they had to get rid of this stuff. They couldn't sell it and it was the only way to dispose of it."

Falcon and others say that a large cache of guns recently found in the waterway by a diving crew installing electrical lines under the bridge was likely some of thousands of weapons sent to a watery grave by NOPD decades ago.

See also: Cache of Guns Discovered at Bottom of Chef Pass

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