Missile launcher turned in during Chula Vista gun buyback event

Police believe launcher is military owned

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The Chula Vista Police Department was caught off guard Saturday when someone turned in a military handheld missile launcher.

"I've been here for over 20 years and this is the first time I've seen something like this," said Chula Vista police Lt. Roxanne Kennedy.

Kennedy said someone handed it over to police during a gun buyback program Saturday. Citizens were given $50 gift cards for their shotguns, rifles, handguns and apparently missile launchers. The program is done anonymously without any questions asked.

10News learned the launcher arrived in someone's trunk.

"No questions were asked at that point and the item was taken and they were on their way," said Kennedy, who admitted being surprised by the launcher.

"This is made for the military for a reason. We certainly don't want the wrong people to have it," she added.

Possession of the rocket launcher is not illegal as long as it is empty. However, police would have called the bomb squad if it were loaded.

Kennedy said it is military, but the serial numbers have been removed, making it difficult to track where it came from.

The empty launcher could still be dangerous in the hands of the wrong person.

"Someone could improvise and turn it into a weapon. So having that off the street to me makes it a success," Kennedy said.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) officials will look at the launcher and will eventually destroy it.

About 210 pounds of ammunition was also turned in.

The ammunition and the 90 other guns will be melted down at a facility in Los Angeles.

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