Indictment: Parolee confessed to Kent Co. gun thefts

Kent County
Tommy Libbett Jr.

A July 15, 2019 booking photo of Tommy Libbett Jr.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who was spotted carrying a backpack filled with stolen weapons admitted to breaking into two Kent County gun stores, according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

Tommy Lee Libbett Jr., 24, is charged with stealing guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Three other federal charges against him are pending, including a second count of stealing guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer, possessing stolen firearms and unlawfully transporting firearms.

The grand jury indictment says after lying several times, Libbett confessed to breaking into Imperial Gunworx in Sparta and Armory Valentine in Kentwood on July 14 and stealing guns. The indictment says Libbett knowingly stole or helped take 19 handguns from Imperial Gunworx and several guns from Armory Valentine.

imperial gunworx break-in
Burglars smashed the front door of Imperial Gunworx in Sparta and stole guns in the early hours of July 14, 2019, investigators say.

The indictment states Libbett told authorities they smashed the glass door to get inside Armory Valentine then took several guns. From there they drove to Imperial Gunworx in Sparta, broke in, smashed a glass display case and took more guns, the indictment states.

kentwood armory valentine break-in
The scene after a break-in at Armory Valentine in Kentwood. (July 14, 2019)

Libbett said he packed the guns he stole into a backpack which he stowed in a vacant home on 39th Street SW in Wyoming, according to the indictment.

Authorities said they spotted Libbett leaving that area with a backpack while responding to a tip about suspicious people. Libbett returned to the site without the backpack, but authorities say they recovered it and found nine guns stolen from Imperial Gunworx inside.

Officers found an additional gun stolen from Armory Valentine in the garage of the vacant home.

Libbett and the other suspects were detained and questioned, and investigators later recovered more guns taken during the burglaries, the indictment states.

Libbett was on parole for felony first-degree home invasion when the break-ins happened. He pleaded guilty to the crime in 2014, authorities say.

Libbett is expected to be arraigned on the new charges on Aug. 7.

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