Published April 13, 2013
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A southern Nevada gun dealer wants to auction a handgun once owned by a rogue former LAPD officer who killed four people and fatally shot himself during a manhunt in February.
George Bramlett, owner of Bargain Pawn, said he plans to donate the money to the families of two California police officers Dorner killed. But administrators handling the funds for San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputy Jeremiah MacKay and Riverside police Officer Michael Crain say the families don't want the money.
Bramlett posted the gun for auction Tuesday on a website, gunbroker.com, along with images of the sales receipt listing Dorner's date of birth, California driver's license number and La Palma, Calif., address. Bramlett bought the .38 special revolver from Dorner in January for $50.
By Friday, the bidding was approaching $500 for a gun that Bramlett said might otherwise be worth $300. Bramlett said he thought it might fetch thousands before bidding ends April 23.
"We're trying to do the right thing," Bramlett said. "Every cent that we get will go to the two police families. They both had kids."
The administrators of the funds benefiting the two slain officers said Friday they don't want money tainted by any association with Dorner, who went on a killing rampage to avenge people he said ended his law enforcement career.
Riverside police Sgt. Brian Smith, president of the Riverside Police Officers Association, called the effort "morbid."
"I appreciate what he's trying to do. And we don't like to turn money down," Smith said. "But when you get right down to it, Jeremy and Mike were murdered by this animal. We wouldn't want to do that to the family members."
The San Bernardino Sheriff's Employee Assistance Team "would not knowingly accept a donation to the MacKay family which was in any way associated with the suspect," Cindy Bachman, a sheriff's office spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Dorner, 33, had a home in Las Vegas where he kept several guns around the house, according to a manicurist who rented a room from him in the summer of 2008.
"On the floor, under the cushions. When I would clean, I would find guns," J'Anna Viskoc said in a February interview with The Associated Press.
Bramlett, a licensed federal firearms dealer who has been in business since 1986, said Dorner was an occasional customer.
"It isn't the gun that's worth the money. It's the history behind it," the shop owner said.
Karen Sternheimer, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California, compared the attraction of Dorner's story to admiration for famous outlaws like Billy the Kid and Bonnie and Clyde.
"I see this as the continuation of a long history of fascination with the notorious," she said.
Bramlett was stunned Friday to hear his plan was panned.
He said he was committed to selling the gun, and if the family funds won't take the money, he'll find a proper beneficiary.
"We want to do something good with the money," he told AP. "I won't keep it. I don't want it. We'll get rid of this money somehow. Some police department will accept it, I assume."