In a state that has tighter gun laws than most, deputies of the LA County Sheriff’s Department were quite surprised to find 432 guns stashed in a residence in Agua Dulce, inhabited by convicted felon Manuel Fernandez. Fernandez, 60, is not allowed to own any firearms due to his felony record. Working on a tip that he was a convicted felon and had a large arsenal, investigators discovered various guns such as war surplus bolt-action rifles, shotguns, hunting rifles, pistols and modern AR-15 rifles. Some of the seized firearms include an HK P7, a Walther P38, a number of US revolvers, Mosin-Nagant rifles, several AK-47 pattern rifles, Mannlichers, FAL rifles, Simonov SKS rifles, and other Cold War-era weapons. The various guns were found stored all over the house, in “pack-rat conditions” along with computers, cellphones and hard drives used to make the illegal purchases, which were also seized as evidence.
A second search on Fernandez’s home turned up another 91 firearms, and another tip that informed deputies that he had a female associate that hoarded another 30 firearms for him in her nearby home, brought the total of Fernandez’s arsenal to 553. Fernandez’s associate was not at her residence at the time of the search and has not returned since. When questioned, Fernandez’s neighbors said that he lived on the Agua Dulce property for the past 14 years, while a FedEx deliveryman stated that he delivered ammunition to Fernandez’s home for years. Investigators familiar to the case say Fernandez acquired the firearms for collection purposes, not for any criminal activities, and that he poses no danger to the public. Due to the massive number and age of the firearms, the Sheriff’s office has tapped the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to help trace the history and origins of each of the firearms. For his actions, Fernandez faces charges of being a felon in possession of firearms, as well as being a felon in possession of ammunition. A day after his arrest, Fernandez posted $35,000 bail and he is scheduled to face the charges in Antelope Valley Superior Court on July 9.