Authorities: Suspect in gun store heist captured

Second suspect still on the lam
Christian Roman is accused of stealing dozens of guns from Target Spots
Christian Roman is accused of stealing dozens of guns from Target Spots

GLENVILLE — One of two men sought by police in connection with a gun store heist last month has been captured, authorities said Friday.

Christian Roman, 23, was in custody Friday on a federal charge of receipt, possession, concealment and storage of a stolen firearm, according to authorities and federal court records.

He is not charged directly in the heist, only possessing at least one of the guns afterward. 

A federal criminal complaint, however, appears to place him at the scene, where he “placed objects” in a car trunk.

The complaint also gives new details on what authorities found in a Schenectady residence and a Schenectady storage facility linked to Roman.

Among the items cited in the complaint as recovered: A single gun, a Springfield Armory 7.62 caliber rifle, and a notebook containing handwritten notes describing models and quantities of firearms consistent with those taken from Target Sports.

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced the arrest Friday evening, but provided no details on when or where he was captured.

Still sought is the other named suspect, Jose J. Fontanez, 36, formerly of the Schenectady area. He remained at large Friday, wanted on a federal count of theft of firearms from a licensed dealer.

Federal, state and local authorities late last week named both men as suspects in the Oct. 23 heist at Target Sports in Glenville.

The 122 Saratoga Road store was broken into early that morning, and at least three people spent more that two hours making off with more than 40 firearms

Police located the car believed used in the crime in Schenectady the evening of Oct. 23 and interviewed other people believed to have knowledge of the caper, police said.

The store’s alarm system failed to notify the owners or police. Subsequent tests of the system have not revealed a cause for the malfunction, and investigators are still trying to determine what went wrong. Documents filed do not address the alarm system.

The unsealed federal criminal complaint largely details allegations against Roman from after the heist. The complaint is signed by ATF Special Agent Mark Meeks.

At a Schenectady house linked to the heist car, investigators found the notebook, along with a number of gun tags that matched firearms taken from the store. 

Investigators believe Roman previously stayed overnight at the address and visited the address the evening before the heist, according to the filing.

One of the gun tags corresponded to the recovered rifle, the complaint reads. Investigators found the rifle three days later, Oct. 26, inside a Schenectady storage unit they believe Roman rented less than 24 hours after the heist under an assumed name.

Investigators believe Roman rented the storage unit just after 7 p.m. on Oct. 23. Shortly afterward, surveillance video shows a black SUV enter the site. 

Investigators arrived at the storage unit Oct. 26 and found a black SUV and, in the rear area of  the vehicle, the Springfield Armory rifle.

The rifle is the only firearm mentioned as recovered. 

The complaint against Roman cites witnesses as telling investigators he traveled from Schenectady to the vicinity of the Glenville store, left the vehicle for a time before he returned and placed objects in the trunk.

The complaint in Fontanez’ case remains sealed while he is sought.

Fontanez has had ties to Schenectady County for at least three years, records show.

He spent about eight months in the Schenectady County Jail in 2014 for a drug sale.

Police have announced a reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the burglary. The reward is being offered by the ATF and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Anyone with information about the burglary, the firearms or Roman and Fontanez should contact the Glenville Police Department at 518-384-0135, or the ATF at 1-888-ATF-GUNS (888-283-4867).

The investigation is being conducted jointly by the ATF, Glenville police and state police.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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