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Three men arrested for burglary at site of proposed firearms facility; police recover handguns, ammunition

Three Riverhead men were arrested for breaking into a proposed firearms training facility and shooting range on Elton Street and stealing two handguns, ammunition, apparel, bags and gun accessories, according to Riverhead Town police.

Police responded to Niosi Firearms Development LLC at 680 Elton St. shortly before 2 p.m. Monday in reference to a prior burglary. Detectives were notified and an “extensive” investigation resulted in three arrests and the recovery of stolen property.

Police arrested Timothy J. Stark, 28, Michael B. Quinn, 35 and Aaron Vasquez, 28. They were all processed on the charges and arraigned in Riverhead Town Justice Court Tuesday morning.

Mr. Quinn faces six charges, including second and third-degree counts of criminal possession of a weapon and second-and third-degree counts of burglary. He also faces third-degree criminal sale of a firearm and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. All the charges are felonies. He was held on $25,000 cash, $50,000 bond or $75,000 secured bond, according to the justice court.

Mr. Stark faces the same two burglary charges and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He was held on $20,000 cash, $40,000 bond or $75,000 secured bond.

Mr. Vasquez faces the two burglary charges. He was held on $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond.

They are pleaded not guilty at the arraignment and are due in court Friday.

The investigation remains ongoing, police said. Anyone with additional information can contact police at 631-727-4500, ext. 312 or the Crime Hotline at 631-727-3333. All calls will be kept confidential.

The Elton Street location has been the subject of a Planning Board review as an applicant called Signature Partners plans to convert a portion of the former TrueTech building into the firearms training facility and shooting range. A public hearing on the plan was postponed last week as the attorney for the applicant asked that the proposal go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to get an interpretation on what uses are permitted. The dispute centers on whether guns sales are permitted at the site.

Several residents at the Planning Board meeting Thursday said Niosi Firearms Development was already advertising the business without obtaining approval and showing a picture of it as well.

Planner Greg Bergman said the police department, fire marshal and code enforcement officers visited the site a day earlier.

“Those pictures were not taken at the 680 Elton Street location,” Mr. Bergman told the audience. “They do not currently have any lawful use to occupy that building for any capacity. No firearms were being stored in that building.” 

Anthony Niosi, an owner of Niosi Firearms, said Tuesday that no firearms were being sold out of the Elton Street building. Guns were being kept in a safe at the site. The stolen guns belonged to a private contractor who sublets space in the Elton Street building, he said.

The building has audio and video surveillance, he added. 

The Riverhead Town Board, meanwhile, has discussed the possibility at a recent work session of banning any gun stores in downtown zoning districts, although no proposals are currently before the board.