Jurors have convicted an 18-year-old from Winona, Minn., of masterminding what authorities called one of the largest gun shop burglaries in recent state history.
Cedric W. Andow, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was found guilty last week in Wabasha County District Court of theft in the Sept. 2 heist of 77 guns from the Millville Rod and Gun Shop on Division Street in Wabasha.
Several of Andow’s co-conspirators, some of whom have also been convicted, testified during Andow’s trial in juvenile court.
County Attorney Karrie Kelly pointed out that the firearms, most of them handguns, and ammunition were stolen before dawn and “by 10 p.m. that same day, several of those guns were already being used in armed robberies.”
With the convictions, Kelly added, “we are safer due to the firm resolve and patience of law enforcement.”
Assistant County Attorney Jacob Barnes said that 29 of the guns have been recovered.
In announcing Andow’s conviction, Barnes called the defendant the “mastermind” behind the burglary. Andow had staked out the shop earlier, said it would be easy to burglarize, hosted the plotting of the crime at his ome and was the one who divided the stolen guns among his cohorts, Barnes said.
Barnes added that “15 of those [guns] were found just across the street from the Andow residence [on Rollin Sunset Drive]. They were stored outside in gym bags.”
The prosecutor said his office has “charged eight individuals in relation to this crime — many with aiding an offender after the fact — and have received multiple pleas of guilty.” One accomplice was 16 at the time of the theft and another 17, according to court records.
Others have been charged in federal court in connection with the burglary of the shop, which is connected to the residence of owner Keith Shones. The three are Trinity J. Wicka, 19, of Winona; Alex Boyd, 38, of Winona, and Sasha M. Erdner, 30, of Rushford, Minn.
Barnes said that further convictions make authorities confident that more information will surface “to help get the remaining stolen firearms off the streets.”
The theft was one of the largest Minnesota gun shop burglaries in the past few years, said James Modzelewski, special agent in charge of the St. Paul division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
At the time of the crime, the ATF said, the burglary accounted for roughly three-quarters of all firearms stolen from licensed dealers in Minnesota last year.
Ashlee Sherrill, a spokeswoman for ATF’s St. Paul office, said her agency is planning a spring educational seminar on storefront security for licensed sellers in Minnesota and has released a mobile app called “reportit” to encourage anonymous reporting on gun crimes and other violent criminal behavior.
Andow has another burglary case pending, that one from April 2016 in Winona County involving the theft of a safe, rare coins, a handgun and jewelry.