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Police: Convicted felon hired by gun shop, steals guns

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GARDEN CITY, GA (WTOC) -

A convicted felon, barred from having a gun, was hired to manage a Garden City gun range.

Police say he stole dozens of firearms from his employer, then sold them to a gun store in Savannah.

Christopher Adam Edgecombe is being held without bond at the Chatham County Jail after police say he stole an estimated 88 guns from Patrick's Uniforms and Gun Range.

Patrick's owners say they had no idea Edgecombe was a felon.

"Chris showed us a current, active concealed-carry permit," said Pat Grace, who co-owns Patrick's with her husband, Rick. "We knew he was military, former military, he'd just gotten out."

Police say that permit was forged.

The Army court marshaled Edgecombe in December 2012. He was found guilty of going AWOL, of stealing from a store on base and of wearing insignia he hadn't earned.

"He was great, a great employee, people loved him, police officers loved him," said the Graces.

According to court records, in 2010, Edgecombe pleaded guilty in Chatham County Superior Court to theft by receiving stolen property, a felony.

Patrick's owners say they didn't do a background check when they hired him. They took the concealed-carry gun permit Edgecombe carried as proof he could take the job.

"We've never had anybody falsify any documents," Pat Grace said.  

Edgecombe was Patrick's range manager, overseeing indoor shooting and gun sales. 

"[He was] also stealing the guns out the back door, selling the guns and pocketing the money," said Lyons. "We know of 88."

All the guns were bought, according to Lyons, by Ortiz Custom Guns. Lyons said Jim Lowery, who oversees Ortiz' retail program, organized the buys.

"Our information is that he was buying the guns for below what Patrick's would've been paying for them wholesale," said Lyons.

So far, no charges have been filed against Lowery. Lyons says he's consulting the District Attorney's office on the matter. 

Lyons believes Lowery, "either knew or should've known that something was amiss," with the guns Edgecombe was selling.

The ATF doesn't require gun store owners to do background checks on employees. But the owners have to get background checks to keep their gun license.

According to ATF's website, so does "anyone having the power to direct the management, policies and practices of the business as it pertains to firearms."

It is not immediately clear if that applies to Edgecombe.

The ATF declined comment on the open investigation.

Lowery also declined comment.

Edgecombe began working at Patrick's in June. The Graces discovered the theft, and called Garden City police, in October.

The Graces say they've done background checks on all of their current employees and will do them for all future hires.

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