$50K bail for man accused of burglarizing private shooting range


The Superior Court has imposed a $50,000 cash bail on a man accused of burglarizing the privately owned shooting range called the American Gun Club, which is no longer in operation, on Tinian last month 

Last Tuesday, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho imposed a $50,000 cash bail on Dennis Sanchez Reyes, the man behind the alleged burglary of the American Gun Club on Tinian back on Aug. 19. 

In a press release issued by the Department of Public Safety last Monday, a joint investigation between officers under the CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force  and Saipan and Tinian DPS officers led to the arrest of Reyes, 35. 

Reyes, who remains under Department of Corrections custody for failure to post bail, is facing charges of burglary, theft, theft of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, failure to possess a firearms owner’s identification card, sale and transfer prohibited, and person prohibited to possess ammunition.  

The joint investigation also led to the execution of a search warrant on a private residence on Tinian, where 19 firearms were recovered. The recovered firearms are believed to be the ones stolen from the American Gun Club shooting range.

An extensive search was conducted at Goat Island as part of the investigation.

Following the bail hearing, Camacho ordered Reyes to return to court on Oct. 5, at 10am for a preliminary hearing while his arraignment was set for Oct. 17, at 9am. 

Assistant public defender Vina Seelam was appointed by the court to represent Reyes while Chief Prosecutor Chester Hinds appeared for the government. 

According to court documents, on Aug. 19, at around 6:53pm, DPS officers conducted a violator stop on a Department of Public Works truck after the vehicle was seen in operation after office hours. The operator of the vehicle was later identified as Reyes who is a heavy equipment operator with Tinian DPW. 

The Nissan Frontier truck was later impounded by police and was brought back to DPS Tinian central for inventory. 

The first initial inventory of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of numerous expended and unexpended .22 caliber cartridges, empty ammunition boxes, and numerous gun trigger locks that were cut/damaged. 

Following the discovery of these items from Reyes’ work truck, police decided to conduct a patrol at the American Gun Club shooting range to verify if the establishment was safe and secured. 

Officers decided to patrol the area as they knew that even though the shooting range has been closed for some time, it still stores firearms and ammunition. 

At around 9:17pm that same night, officers discovered signs of forced entry at the shooting range’s main entrance, and armory door. 

After speaking with the owner of the establishment, police were able to determine that about 19 firearms had been stolen. 

The owner of the shooting range also informed police that he had seen an individual earlier on with a rifle that resembled one of the rifles that were stolen from the armory. 

Police spoke with the owner of said rifle, who police identified as a cooperating source, who informed police that the rifle may have come from Reyes because “word on the street” was that he was selling firearms. 

At around 10am on Aug. 20, police procured keys from the shooting range to see if any of the keys belonged to the gun locks seized from Reyes’ work truck. All 18 gun locks found in Reyes’ vehicle were unlocked by the keys taken from the shooting range. 

In an interview with DPW department head Joel Untalan, he confirmed that the vehicle has only ever been operated by Reyes. 

The CNMI DETF later arranged a buy-walk operation with the cooperating source to purchase firearms from Reyes. 

The cooperating source was able to purchase a rifle and two handguns from Reyes during the operation. 

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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