More and more, reports the St. Petersburg Times, assault weapons made for the battlefield are turning up in the wrong hands–the kind of hands that police say aimed two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles at a home where an 8-year-old girl slept Sunday. Paris Whitehead-Hamilton was killed by three of the more than 50 bullets that pierced her Bartlett Park home, police say, losing her life to an escalating cycle of gang retaliation. Days later, St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said, “Assault weapons are good for one purpose only, and that’s to kill other human beings. They don’t belong on any city street in America.” (Photo by Burned Leg)
The problem, many in law enforcement say, is that is exactly where they are. Hours after the murder, detectives arrested their first suspect and seized a cache of weapons at his apartment complex. Police recovered a bulletproof vest, two pistol grip 12-gauge shotguns, a .308-caliber hunting rifle with a scope, a .22-caliber revolver – and two semi-automatic AR-15 rifles. They recovered a clip and ammunition for the rifles. They also found two loaded clips for an AK-47 assault rifle, but not the weapon itself. The AR-15s are now in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement laboratory for testing.