For Immediate Release
Two Vernon Residents Charged with Firearm Offenses Related to Stafford Pawn Shop Burglary
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that DAMIEN GARCIA, 32, and LAWRENCE McEWEN, 37, both of Vernon, have been charged by federal criminal complaint with firearm offenses related to the theft of guns from a Stafford pawn shop on September 14.
Garcia and McEwen were originally arrested on state charges on September 17. Garcia, who was released on bond after his state arrest, was arrested on the federal charges yesterday. He is detained pending a detention hearing that is scheduled for September 26. McEwen has been detained since his state arrest.
As alleged in the criminal complaint, on September 15, 2019, the Connecticut State Police received a report that the Simon Says Pawn Shop, a Federal Firearms Licensee in Stafford, had been burglarized the previous evening and that several firearms had been stolen. Investigators subsequently determined that six handguns were missing from the store. On September 17, Vernon Police developed information that Garcia was involved in the burglary and was in possession of a firearm. That evening, after officers approached Garcia and McEwen on West Main Street in Vernon, Garcia and McEwen attempted to flee before. After both were apprehended, officers recovered a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol that McEwen discarded as he ran away. The firearm was one of the six stolen from the Simon Says Pawn Shop on September 14.
The other five missing handguns have not been recovered.
It is alleged that both Garcia and McEwen have previously been convicted of multiple felony offenses.
The complaint charges Garcia and McEwen with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a stolen firearm. Both offenses carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Connecticut State Police, Vernon Police Department and Hartford Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas P. Morabito.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.