By Jonathan Phelps and Mark E. Vogler Staff Writers
---- — LAWRENCE — A mother brought two unlicensed handguns to the police station last night, leading to her son's arrest on weapons charges.
“I commend the mother for her action,” Lawrence police Chief John Romero said in an interview last night.
At about 6 p.m., Sandra Valentin walked into the police station, accompanied by her 16-year-old daughter, who helped to translate her complaint. Officer Willie Oliveri was later used as a translator during the interview of Valentin.
“This couldn’t have been easy for her. But, she was concerned about the safety of her daughter and absolutely did the right thing here,” the chief said.
She told police that at about 11:30 a.m., while her son was handling a gun in his bedroom, it went off and a bullet went through a wall into his sister’s bedroom, almost striking her. After the incident, the mother had a big fight with her son and told him to get the guns out of the house, according to Romero.
“But later in the day, she found the two guns laying on his bed. She put them in her car and drove to the police station, wanting to give the guns to the police,” he said.
Valentin allowed police to search her vehicle. Lt. James Rasso retrieved from the car a long barrel .44 magnum revolver, fully loaded, and a .22 Luger automatic, according to police.
Detectives went to her home at about 7:30 p.m., where they saw her son, Luis Rosario, out in front of the house and arrested him.
Police sought a search warrant to gather possible evidence at the home last night. State police crime scene personnel responded to the location to assist city police.
Rosario, 18, of 18 Monmouth St., Lawrence, was charged with two counts of illegal possession of a firearm, two counts of illegal possession of ammunition, assault with a deadly weapon (the bullet going through the wall and almost injuring his sister) and discharging a gun within 500 feet of a dwelling.
Police were also investigating last night to see if one of the weapons seized — a long barrel .44 magnum revolver — was the same one used in two armed robberies in the same neighborhood Friday night.
“It’s a very distinctive weapon that we don’t ordinarily come across. Given the location of the home and the distinct type of weapon that it is, we’re looking into whether it’s possibly connected,” Romero said. “In my time here, I really have not seen a gun like that recovered. Both victims made a point to describe this weapon as a revolver.”
Romero noted that the gun is the same type that was made famous by, and is still most often associated with, the fictional character “Dirty” Harry Callahan from the “Dirty Harry” film series starring Clint Eastwood. In these movies, “Dirty Harry” often referred to the .44 magnum as “the most powerful handgun in the world.”
The two armed robberies from Friday night, are linked by this distinctive gun as well as a stolen cellphone.
Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, police say a man on Basswood Street reported being approached by a masked man in his backyard who held him up with a long barrel revolver and stole his cellphone.
The masked man shot the gun in the air during the hold up and took off toward Popular Street.
A half-hour later, a pizza delivery man reported being involved in an armed robbery on Belmont Street. When the driver arrived at the delivery site, he was approached by a masked man with a long barrel revolver, according to police.
The employee of Domino’s Pizza handed over the pizza and $19 in cash, according to police. The masked man ended up taking off toward Kendrick Street.
It was later determined that the phone number used to order the pizza was from the stolen cellphone from earlier in the evening, Romero said.
While there was only one masked man reported in each case, there is at least two people involved, Romero said. One man reported the robber being 5-foot 11-inches, while the other said 5-foot 4-inches, Romero said.
Romero said extra patrols were assigned to the area of the robberies. He asked if anyone has any information about the robberies to call the police station.