Brookline Police Arrest Man, Seize a Cache of Guns [Updated]

Brookline Police Department announced today that they have arrested a Harvard Street man and charged him with firearms violations.

[Update: Brookline Police Chief Daniel O'Leary provided some more details to the Board of Selectmen at their Tuesday meeting.

He reports that Richard Becker had 18 firearms registered to him, and police only recovered 16 of those at the scene, among the 36 weapons recovered. Some of these rifles are not legal in this state. Police also found silencers which he said are illegal in Massachusetts. Among the high-capacity clips officers found, a "banana" clip capable of storing upto 100 rounds. 

When police informed him that they knew about the guns, and invited him to accompany them during the search, O'Leary says he fell to the ground and requested medical attention. He is still at Beth Israel hospital. 

O'Leary also told the Selectmen that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) will investigate the case. He adds that, at this time, there is no indication Becker is involved in any terrorist or anarchist groups, and he made no threats to himself or to others.

According to O'Leary, they became aware of Becker initially because of outstanding warrants issued for missed jury duty in Quincy. They had attempted to speak with Becker last week, but he ran into his building before they could.

Police attribute the success of the arrest to the preparedness of a unit Brookline police have been training to handle situations involving dangerous warrants, or barricaded persons, among other cases.

“I was very pleased--'pleased' is kind of a shallow word--but it was very good to hear, when we sat around the conference room, that no one wanted to rush it. Time was on our side, didn’t know we were looking for him," O'Leary said. 

Boston Globe's YourTown Brookline also reports that Becker's firearm license expired in the late '90s, and there was no record he had gotten rid of the weapons.

Brookline's policy with seized weapons is to have them destroyed following the case. 9:30 p.m.]


  arrested a man, and recovered his cache of weapons last night. Inside his home, police say, 36 guns--including 14 high-powered rifles--as well as ammunition capable of piercing bulletproof vests and several silencers. 

According to a press release the department issued today, Brookline Police received tips about a man at 181 Harvard Street, Richard Becker. Officers served a warrant last night, and arrested and charged Becker with "numerous" firearms violations. 

He is due in today. 

Below is the press release from the Brookline Police: 

Within the last 4 days the Brookline Police had developed information that a large cache of weapons was inside a residence located at 181 Harvard Street in Brookline. The Police Department applied for and received a search warrant for 181 Harvard Street. The warrant was issued by the Brookline District Court and executed at 5:00pm on Monday, June 11, 2012.

Richard Becker of Brookline was subsequently arrested and charged with numerous firearms violations.

Recovered were 36 firearms included 14 high powered weapons, several silencers and a large collection of high powered ammunition capable of penetrating bullet proof vests. 

Mr. Becker is due in Brookline District Court today Tuesday, June 12, 2012.

Charges, where mentioned, do not indicate conviction. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

miked June 12, 2012 at 05:59 PM
1.) Why was a search warrant issued? Last I checked, owning guns was legal. Even in MA. 2.) Most rifle ammunition is capable of piercing a bullet-proof vest. Enough with the sensationalist reporting.
Donald Mei June 12, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Having a bunch of firearms in your home is not a crime. Having "high powered" rifles is not a crime. Ammunition capable of piercing bulletproof vests is commonplace. Almost all rifle ammunition, like the kind you use to hunt with, will easily pierce a bulletproof vest. Silencers are illegal in MA. Thats the only crime I see in this article, although I'd bet that they will turn out to be "fake" suppressors that come with some guns. Again, perfectly legal. This is all very very disturbing to me. If someone says "That guy has a huge cache of guns in his house", the proper police response should be "OK, there's nothing wrong with that. Has he threatened you?" Don
RFWAVELENGTH June 12, 2012 at 06:30 PM
My bet? The guy's soon-to-be-ex wife or girlfriend decided to turn him in as a revenge measure or told the court that he had guns so the police would be able to confiscate them as part of a 209A restraining order. That is why I own only two firearms (rifle and shotgun). It is a lot easier to get two guns over the border into NH quickly than it is to hide and transport 36.
Grahame Turner June 12, 2012 at 07:15 PM
They have not given any more information, and are fairly tight-lipped about the case. Although the phrase "firearms violations" suggests that he was not following the rules for rifle ownership in MA. If you think it's sensationalist, you should take that up with the PD: The italicized portion is the press release from the Brookline Police--which is where they specified the ammo was armor-piercing.
jim k June 12, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Were the guns owned legally? If yes, why would the cops be issued a warrant? So they seized his 'high powered ammunition capable of penetrating bullet proof vests', aka rifle rounds? Did they expect the guy to feed his rifles with corn kernels?
tex ryan June 12, 2012 at 10:54 PM
brookline police issue licenses for all guns housed in brookline. there are about 2 licenses issued in total, therefore, they knew all the guns were illegal. you need a license.
Grahame Turner June 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I'm getting some more information at the Board of Selectmen's meeting, and my initial understanding was correct: The majority of the guns he had were not registered in Mass. Some of them, as well as many of the silencers (if not all, I confess I don't have all the facts of gun law at my fingertips), are not legal in Mass at all. I will post an update shortly, I just wanted to make sure first that this point was crystal clear: the Police did not just arrest this guy because he had guns. He was arrested because he had guns which were unregistered, and some even illegal.
Grahame Turner June 12, 2012 at 11:11 PM
See the above comment(s): no, not all of the guns were owned legally. Some are not even legal in Mass.
Jordan Bray June 13, 2012 at 02:52 PM
If police tell you they know of your deadly weapons, and that they're going to search your home...and you faint and are hospitalized!? This wasn't just some happy hunter looking to shoot a deer in NH, there's a good chance there's something else going on. Bravo Brookline PD! If we don't have one already, I'd call for a restriction on how many guns you can own, to maybe 8. If it looks like you're trying to equip your own little militia, sorry, but that's just sketchy and too much of a potential risk for your neighbors and the public in general.
atiak47 June 13, 2012 at 03:36 PM
You should be allowed to own as many as you can afford. Risk to your neighbors? So some jerk breaks into "YOUR HOME" steals your stuff and your to blame not the person breaking into the home? Why don't we pass a law saying any crime committed with a gun gets an automatic death sentence and leave law abiding citizens alone
Bill Davidson June 13, 2012 at 06:40 PM
If any dude in Brookline feels like he needs to 36 firearms, he's living in the wrong town. The closest state forests or parks for hunting are at least 20 miles away. I suppose he could go to a local firing range, but it seems pretty limiting. I'm not a gun owner, but if I loved them that much, I'd want to live where I could use them all the time.
Donald Mei June 13, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Grahme, Guns don't need to be registered in MA. You need to notify the state via a FA-10 whenever you transfer a gun. But you don't need to register them.
Donald Mei June 13, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Grahm, also, you can't tell if the guns are illegal just by looking at them. This great state makes certain guns illegal based on their name and date of manufacture. So some of the black AR15 style of rifles would be legal if made before 1994, and illegal if made after. The cops can't tell the date of MFG unless they contact the manufacturer. Which is why the ATF is involved. If those ARs are preban, they will all be legal. Also, if you let your Firearms ID card expire, and are caught with firearms, it is a CIVIL offense. Like a parking ticket. So this guy could end up having his life ruined for what amounts to a parking ticket. Don
Donald Mei June 13, 2012 at 09:22 PM
The Second Amendment is NOT ABOUT HUNTING. My god. All these references to shooting deer. Here's the fact. Firearms are legal. You can own as many as you can afford. You don't need to prove "Need".
James Roberts June 13, 2012 at 10:35 PM
This is a very sad case. Mr Becker has been an aquantence of mine for years. back in the 80's, when buying these kinds of weapons was lawful and easy. He has never been in touble witht he law and made no threats or indicated he was going to use the weapons for unlawful purposes. Yes, his LTC was expired and he was in possesion of these weapons, but if you look at the circumstance beyond that it would be a shame to see him put in jail or have his life destroyed by the authorities. Many, many others have far more serious circumstances and have not done jail time for similiar charges. I hope and pray the legal system will be able to see the whole picture here and grant him leanancy
Donald Mei June 14, 2012 at 12:48 AM
This is the problem with the laws in this state. You become a felon if you don't keep up with things. By doing nothing, you break the law. I recently moved here. I was given 60 days to get a FID or a LTC or I needed to remove the fireams from the state. I live in what is considered to be a firearm friendly town, especially so since i'm inside 128. The law says that the state has 40 days to issue me a LTC from the date of application, yet I had to wait 3 weeks to make the application. Hmm. By making a pest of myself, I got my LTC inside the time the system was supposed to provide me with one. But if I had not been a squeaky wheel it would have gone beyond the 40 days, and I'd have been beyond the 60 day allowance for new residents. I'd have been a felon. As it is, I spent many hours researching what firearms and what magazines I had to leave behind in CT. The MSP were no help. They didn't want to go on record. Crazy stuff. This state is full of firearms laws like this. They entrap the innocent but do nothing to protect public safety. These laws should offend all citizens. EVEN IF YOU HATE GUNS, but simply believe in the rule of law. Ok. Rant over. Don
Bill Davidson June 14, 2012 at 03:49 PM
If you don't like the guns laws in MA, move. No one's forcing you to live here.
Donald Mei June 14, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Bill - did you even read my post. It was more about the rule of law than gun laws in particular. All I'm asking is for the police and the MSP to follow the law. If the law says I have 60 days to "get legal" with a LTC, and the process to do so takes 75 days, there is a problem. Conversely - if the law allows you to own certain firearms, don't arrest someone for having them. Just in case you missed it the first two times: All I want is for people to follow the law, including the police. I completely accept that when I moved here, I had a new set of laws to comply with. I'm good with that. Totally. However, it is disturbing to see police acting OUTSIDE the law to discourage things that are legal. Remember that a basic principle of our legal system is that if something is not explicitly prohibited, it is legal. Laws don't "allow" things, they prohibit them. Don
Bill Davidson June 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Don, I did read your post. It seems that MA makes gun ownership a headache. However, neighboring states like Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont seem to be friendlier to gun owners.
atiak47 June 14, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Bill do you enjoy playing golf? Are you willing to travel 45 mins from Brookline go play at a challenging course? Well one of the best shooting ranges in the state is only 45 mins from Brookline. There are many more closer by. So if you don't want to live near someone who can legally keep 100+ guns in their home then you need to move. You might find North Korea, China, Venezuela or Cuba more to your liking since they don’t allow citizen to own firearms. I’m sure you will feel much safer there.
Donald Mei June 17, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Yes MA does make it a headache. But I'm a big boy, and expected to deal with that when I moved here. What I didn't expect was an environment where gun owners are vilified in the press before all the facts are even known. Fact: MA used to issue LIFETIME FID cards. Then they changed their mind. So someone with a card that says "Lifetime" on it is expected to know the law has invalidated his firearms ID. I suspect we will find that this man has one of these cards. I also suspect that the cops will find all of his guns to have been legal and all of his silencers to be nonfunctioning replicas. What then? Will the media run lead stories announcing that all charges have been dropped? I think not.
Grahame Turner June 18, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Donald, If you have re-read the story since its initial publication, you will notice some new details; you may have also seen a story about the charges ( http://patch.com/A-vfPY ). In both, we learn that Mr. Becker's license expired in the late '90s, and that only 16 of the 36 guns were at one time registered to him. Myself and my press colleagues learned about this by press release; I included that release here, along with additional information as we received it. Would you care to explain in what way Mr. Becker has been vilified here? The fact that he was arrested and charged, press release or no, is in the public records--and I do not believe this story (or any since) has gone beyond the facts. That said, I resent the implication of bias. I too am a big boy, and keep any opinions I have to myself while I do my job. While I am the first to admit I have a lot on my plate, this is also a story that is worth following-up, and I already have at court: http://patch.com/A-vhv2 , and will do the same on Wednesday at the dangerousness hearing (this is a legal term). In the same way I followed up after assault charges were dropped against a man accused of hitting a 12-year-old: http://patch.com/A-pF2r .
Donald Mei June 18, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Mr. Turner, First the press has vilified him by making a big deal about the fact that he has "armor piercing bullets", or at least "bullets that can go through a police man's vest". While this is technically correct, it fails to mention the obvious: 1) That a police officer's vest is designed to stop handgun bullets. 2) That standard rifle ammunition, like that used by target shooters and hunters will penetrate a police officer's vest. 3) That even if he did have "armor piercing ammunition", it is perfectly legal. Expired license: If he had a FID that said "Lifetime" on it, is it not reasonable to conclude that letting his license "expire" is an innocent mistake, rather than something sinister? If he did have a Lifetime FID, his expectations were set by the state that it was good for life and did not require any renewal. Even if he knowingly let it expire, this is a CIVIL offense, equivalent to a parking ticket. So by portraying this as a serious offense, the press is making things look much more sinister than they are. He went through the background checks to get the Lifetime FID, but failed to pay an administrative charge to keep it current, after the state changed the rules. (continued)
Donald Mei June 18, 2012 at 02:50 PM
(continued) Registration: MA does not have gun registration. They record when firearms are transferred between citizens via something called an FA-10. This is not registration. There are a number of circumstances where the state would have no record of firearms LEGALLY possessed by an individual. They include: 1) Firearms possessed prior to 1998. 2) Firearms possessed by an individual that were brought into MA when he moved here. Based on the age of Mr. Becker and the age of some of the rifles, it is entirely plausible that he owned the "unregistered" firearms prior to 1998. Silencers: If they are real, he is definitely breaking the law. No argument there, but I think you will find out that they are the very popular "fake" silencers. Either way, please be aware that silencers have a number of legitimate uses. They do not make a gun quiet. Rather they reduce the sound from somewhere around 150db to 120db. This is huge reduction, but it does not make a firearm quiet. Just quieter. I'd be happy to discuss further either on this blog or off line. Don
Donald Mei June 18, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I forgot to mention that I would hope that you would exercise due diligence as to the context of the facts before reporting on a police press release. Including some of the items I mentioned above would provide a legal context for the reader. They hear armor piercing bullets, and think its a crime. But its perfectly legal. All of the crimes that he has been charged with (thank you for directing me to the updated article) were not crimes prior to 1998. This is the problem with the law as it is written. If you bought firearms prior to '98, and just sat on them, you became a felon by doing nothing. That is a bad law, whether you like guns or not. I don't know the age of his rifles, but if they were made prior to '94, they would not be a crime to own. Ownership is only criminal based on the '98 law which created a multi-tiered licensing system. After '98 a FID was not adequate to own "large capacity" anything. So again, there is a very good chance that this is not a case of a man committing criminal acts. It is a case of a man purchasing firearms legally and then failing to keep abreast of tightening gun laws and doing what is necessary to stay legal. Don
Grahame Turner June 19, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I will accept the point about high-powered ammunition, but I feel the reason it was brought up (here and elsewhere) is more that it is one of the few details included in the initial release from the press. In more recent stories, the "high power" point has dropped out, and largely been replaced by "high capacity clips." This, however, is how online news works: we get a small amount of information, inform our readers, then go back for more information, and certain details rise to the top--others fall. The remaining points, however, include a lot of suppositions which, even now, we don't have the information to make. For example: I (and I'm sure my counterparts at other news outlets), are not saying that he intentionally let the license lapse, but what we are reporting is the fact that his license expired. To say that he could have simply "forgotten" is a huge assumption--and making that large an assumption would be irresponsible on any story. Speaking at least for myself, I have not treated this story any differently than other criminal stories. The public record indicates the arrest was made, the public record also indicates charges filed. As I have the a website to run--beyond this story--I have little time to go much deeper than the public record. However, I do trust my readers are smart enough to know the difference between an arrest and a conviction.


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