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Man unloads 58 guns at Compton weapons exchange

December 29, 2009 |  4:39 pm

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies expected heavy business Tuesday during the department's "gift for guns" program in Compton.

And sure enough, scores of people lined up to turn in various weapons in exchange for supermarket gift certificates.

But they were surprised at the man who pulled up in an SUV with 58 guns -- mostly small handguns but also some assault weapons. Dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, the mystery man offered his cache in a nonchalant fashion.

As is the policy for such events, the deputies asked no questions and eagerly took the guns. They don't know the man's name, and the donor declined to comment to The Times.

After unloading his weapons, the man received several thousands of dollars in supermarket coupons and drove away.

"That should feed someone for a year or two," said Lt. Anthony Lucia. "There were a lot of the kind of weapons used in robberies. We don't know his identity. We don't know if he is gun dealer or what. But that is 58 guns off the street."

The Compton exchange Tuesday garnered 232 guns, all of which will be destroyed. The Gift for Guns program has been a staple of the Sheriff's Department's crime reduction efforts in Compton, which has seen a drop in homicides in recent years.

Countywide, the program has taken 5,000 guns off the streets throughout L.A. County.  At the Santa Clarita station earlier this year, one person dropped off a 20mm artillery shell and another person left 11 guns, including a Thompson .45-caliber submachine gun, an SKS assault rifle and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. 

-- Richard Winton and Luis Sinco

More photos:
Trading guns for gifts

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies inspect and inventory about a dozen civilian versions of military assault rifles during a Gifts for Guns exchange program in Compton on Tuesday. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)