WOODLAKE – Thomas Antonowicz Jr. of Woodlake has been arrested after an extensive investigation for manufacturing a multitude of unregistered weapons.
On Aug. 11, Antonowicz, 43, was arrested after it was discovered that he was building assault weapons with a 3-D printer. Antonowicz was detained for possession and the manufacturing of machine guns, possession of unregistered assault weapons, manufacturing assault weapons, possession of silencers, manufacturing of unsafe handguns, and manufacturing of unserialized handguns.
“The reason there is such a concern with people like this to be manufacturing unregistered firearms is the fact that they are untraceable, unlike serialized firearms,” Visalia Police Department said in an email to The Sun-Gazette. “Many times, we see these firearms being sold to people who are prohibited from purchasing and owning firearms.”
The Tulare County Agencies Regional Gun Violence Enforcement Task Force (TARGET) began an investigation on Antonowicz after receiving information that he was believed to be using a 3-D printer to build AR-15 auto sears and privately manufacturing firearms.
After an extensive investigation, TARGET obtained a search warrant. On Aug. 10, the TARGET task force led a multi-agency operation that included the Visalia Police Department’s Narcotics Unit and the Bureau of Firearms Fresno Regional Office, along with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team. The agencies served a search warrant at Antonowicz’s home in the city of Woodlake.
Several weapons were seized at the home, including: 59 3-D printed AR-15 Drop-in Auto Sears, four silencers, three assault weapon pistols, three privately manufactured and unserialized handguns, two assault weapon rifles, seven privately manufactured AR-15 lower receivers, six privately manufactured unserialized and unfinished AR-15 frames, 15 unfinished handgun frames, seven handgun slide/barrel kits, nine AR-15 upper receivers, two drum mags, one 3-D Printer with numerous rolls of filament, seven laptops and one pound of cannabis.
Law enforcement stated that the investigation is still active but noted that the inability to trace and register these firearms is not the only concern that local police have. They said there is also potential that these homemade guns could be defective.
“Many of these firearms are considered unsafe,” Visalia Police Department stated. “The requirement standards and the quality control are not present; therefore, many of these firearms may not function properly causing them to misfire, malfunction or – in some other way, as a result – be unsafe and more likely to unintentionally cause harm to the person using them or others nearby.”
Following his arrest, Antonowicz was booked into the Tulare County pre-trial detention facility. This case will be submitted to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office for review and consideration of criminal prosecution.