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Stolen, loaded gun found in dirty laundry sent to HOC: “This situation could have ended much differently”

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FRANKLIN (WITI) -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says a loaded gun was discovered in the dirty laundry sent from the County Jail to the House of Correction -- and he is applauding the quick action of correctional personnel at the House of Correction for their actions after the gun was found.

Abele says the House of Correction provides laundry services for a number of county entities, including the Milwaukee County Jail.

This incident is under investigation, but it appears the weapon was taken into the Milwaukee County Jail late last week by an inmate who then stashed the weapon in dirty laundry. Per usual procedure, on Monday morning, February 23rd, that laundry was sent to the House of Correction for cleaning.

"My concern, though -- probably like anybody hearing this story is how the hell does a loaded gun get through security? Shoutout to our staff at corrections for finding it and immediately notifying the state Department of Corrections," Abele said.

Indications are that the Sheriff’s Office was looking for the weapon, but they never alerted folks at the House of Correction, according to Abele's office.

House of Correction officials alerted the State Department of Corrections immediately after finding the gun.

Gun found at House of Correction

Gun found at House of Correction

“We can never reinforce often enough how serious and crucially important robust controls and procedures are to prevent this sort of situation. Had the wrong person gotten his hands on this gun, this situation could have ended much differently. I’m very thankful that is not the case and that staff responded quickly and appropriately to the situation," Abele said.

House of Correction officials ran a search of the gun through the FBI’s National Crime Information Center and it was reported as a stolen weapon. The firearm had a round in the chamber and a full magazine.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke issued the following statement regarding this incident:

"We are trying to determine how this firearm got into the secure portions of both of these jail facilities.  This is a serious breach.  My goal is to get to the bottom of it to tighten security inside these confinement facilities.  Abele has seized on this serious situation as a political opportunity.  I find that shameful.

Here’s what we know so far.  An individual was arrested by Milwaukee police officers on the street.  He was wanted on a warrant.  He had on a walking boot-type cast and complained of leg pain to the MPD officers.  MPD conveyed him to the hospital because of this.  It has not been determined what treatment he underwent.  Officers on the street are expected to do a search incident to an arrest, but should not be removing body casts or prosthetics as that should be done by medical personnel.  He was conveyed to the Milwaukee County Jail and booked in.  He posted bond and was released.

Detectives are trying to determine how he was able to secrete a weapon inside a walking cast.  This will cause us to reevaluate our search policy in cases where subjects have medical devices.  Our goal is to examine things that have not happened before, learn from them and adjust our policies.  Abele instead is more concerned about political gain and attempting to embarrass Milwaukee police officers, hospital personnel and corrections officers, who obviously did not find the weapon inside the walking boot.

It was an inmate worker who found the firearm at the House of Correction, but Abele was quick to give his employees credit.  I want to give the inmate credit for doing the right thing when he found the weapon.

I’m not surprised at the smallness of Abele.  This is a guy who spent $250K of his personal wealth to try to defeat me in my reelection last fall, including $10K to a known political hack to try to smear me."

The Sheriff's Office runs the Milwaukee County Jail but not the House of Correction. The HOC was placed under a superintendent back in 2013.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this story.


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