KU gun mystery still unsolved; stolen revolver found in bathroom had been missing for a year

Signs stating that the open carry of firearms is prohibited inside buildings are posted on doors throughout the University of Kansas campus. This sign, on Wescoe Hall, is pictured July 7, 2017.

Until it turned up this month, the stolen gun left loaded and unattended in a men’s bathroom at the University of Kansas had been unaccounted for — officially, at least — for more than a year.

Where has it been, who’s been carrying it, and who left it in the bathroom?

Police still don’t know, but they hope the gun’s recovery will help them answer those questions and solve the case.

The Journal-World requested reports and spoke to representatives from both police departments involved in the investigation.

Here’s what we do know about the gun, according to Olathe Police Department and University of Kansas Office of Public Safety reports:

The gun — a .38-caliber Taurus Ultra-Lite revolver, valued at $450 — was reported stolen on June 6, 2016.

The gun’s owner, a 25-year-old woman from southwest Missouri, told Olathe police that the gun had been stolen out of her car on or around June 4, and that she last knew she had it on May 9. The incident address is that of a car dealership at 1845 E. Santa Fe St. in Olathe.

On Sept. 5 of this year, the gun was discovered, unattended, in a men’s bathroom in KU’s Wescoe Hall.

A KU faculty member and student reported finding the weapon shortly after 11 a.m.

The gun was loaded, with two bullets.

No one has contacted KU police saying they left their gun in the bathroom, KU Police Deputy Chief James Anguiano said.

He said police don’t have any reason to believe the men who reported finding the weapon had anything to do with it, other than coming across it in an unexpected place.

By checking the gun’s serial number, KU police were quickly able to confirm that it had been stolen out of Olathe, Anguiano said. With that established, he said, KU police turned over their investigation to Olathe police, where the stolen gun report originated.

The Olathe Police Department’s investigation is ongoing, and the gun’s recovery may help, Olathe Police Sgt. Logan Bonney said.

“It’s going to open up new leads … hopefully,” Bonney said.

Generally speaking, when police recover stolen property they can run forensic tests on the item to see if there’s useful evidence, Bonney said.

Bonney said at this time he could not provide specific information on forensic testing of the gun found at KU, or a timeline.

“The testing process if any can take several months due to prioritization,” Bonney said.

He said Olathe police have not completed a trace report on the weapon through the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), because the owner is already known.

As for where the gun has been since it was stolen, Bonney and Anguiano pointed out that the person who stole it isn’t necessarily the same person who left it in the bathroom on campus.

There’s a number of scenarios in which the gun could have changed hands without the transaction being registered in any government database. Private sales of firearms between individuals are legal in Kansas, although knowingly selling stolen property is not.

The lawful concealed carry of firearms is now allowed on the KU campus. Anguiano said leaving a gun unattended isn’t normally treated as a criminal case, though the weapon’s stolen status does complicate matters.

Anguiano said anyone with information about the gun can call KU police at 864-5900, KU Crime Stoppers at 864-8888 or Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County at 843-TIPS (8477).