August 2, 2014

Elyria
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Stolen guns paid for tuition, man says

VERMILION — A Vermilion man has put a new spin on working his way through college.

Phillip A. Smith said he stole a rifle and shotgun from his uncle to help pay his tuition at Lorain County Community College, according to police reports. Police are skeptical about the motive.

Smith said he received $100 for the .20-gauge shotgun and .22-caliber rifle and paid his tuition Friday. When Sgt. Gordon Adams questioned whether the school was open the day after Thanksgiving, Smith changed his story and said he put the money in an envelope and slipped it under a door but didn’t get a receipt.

Betty Adkins, Smith’s grandmother, told police that Smith “has been in and out of college so much she can’t keep track anymore.”

The burglary was reported Friday at a home in the 600 block of Guilford Road with entry reportedly through a second-floor bedroom window. Mark Schnitzler, a neighbor of Smith’s grandfather, said Smith sold him the guns for $235 and gave police a receipt with Smith’s signature on it.

Schnitzler called police after asking Lewis Smith, Smith’s father, if he could sell the guns back to Smith’s grandfather. Lewis Smith said the guns were stolen. When police arrested Phillip Smith at his home in the 700 block of Hazelwood Avenue, Lewis Smith gave them an SKS semiautomatic rifle that he said his son had been keeping in the house.

Phillip Smith said he “obtained it from a ‘John’ in Lorain, unknown last name.” Police said they are running a trace request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives to find out who originally purchased the SKS.

Smith, 22, was charged with burglary, possession of criminal tools and two counts of theft. He was being held Tuesday at the Lorain County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in Vermilion Municipal Court.