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Two arrested in gun thefts

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:56 PM

At least one of the men has also admitted to breaking into and stealing of guns from a Spring Lake business, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said.

Joseph Jerry Sweet, 33, and Ronald Patrick Cook, 28, are lodged in the Muskegon County Jail on charges connected to the incident. Sweet is being held on a $125,000 bond and Cook is being held on a $100,000 bond.

Both are being charged with charged with breaking and entering a building, felon in possession of a firearm, larceny of a firearm, and being habitual offenders (fourth offense). Cook is also charged with two counts of felony firearm (second offense).

Hilson said the pair face up to life in prison, if convicted, because of being habitual offenders. He said most of their criminal history is in Ottawa County.

Police arrested the two men late last week after a multi-agency investigation into a burglary at Grasmeyer Guns in Twin Lake on July 13. Muskegon County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an alarm at the business about 12:30 a.m. and found the business had been entered and several guns were stolen.

Surveillance video showed two masked subjects breaking in and taking the firearms. Police are not releasing the video at this time.

Images of the suspects were obtained off the video and sent to area police departments.

Personnel from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety recognized Sweet. They also recognized the car in the video as one Sweet was known to drive.

Grand Haven officers then located Sweet and his vehicle. Officials said the vehicle used in the break-in had been repainted.

Police obtained search warrants and further evidence of Sweet’s involvement in the break-in, they said.

Following his arrest, police identified Cook as the second suspect and arrested him in Ottawa County.

Police then recovered five of the handguns and all four rifles that had been stolen from the Muskegon County store.

Mike Hewitt, owner of Renegade River in Spring Lake, said Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police had notified him of the pair's arrest, but it was not clear these men had burglarized his store in late June. Hewitt said that, as far as he knows, none of the eight handguns missing from his store have been recovered.

Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung said charges were pending in the Renegade River burglary.

Hewitt said he's a gun advocate, but he doesn’t want to see the guns in the wrong hands.

“Obviously, you want the people off the street,” he said from his hunting, camping and outdoor store on Monday. “I would feel a lot better if the guns were recovered. I’ve got nine grandkids in the area and I just want them safe.”

Assisting Muskegon County on the investigation were the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department, and Michigan State Police Sixth District Fugitive Team.

The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office has also been in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the case, and will continue to work with them during the investigation, Hilson said.


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