The attorney for the Daytona Beach Police Department is trying to determine whether investigators violated state law when they asked gun shops to provide an electronic list of people who purchased a weapon like the one used in the city’s serial killings of 2005 and 2006.

Assistant City Attorney Tony Jackson said Monday police did not consult with him before they began asking gun dealers for the information.

However, Jackson also said he’s not so sure police did anything illegal.

“It’s clearly up to interpretation (the state law),” Jackson said. “They (the police) have asked me to take a look at this and I’m taking a very careful look because this is a sensitive issue.”

Between December 2005 and February 2006, three women were shot to death in the city. After the third murder police said they had a serial killer on the loose. A fourth woman was found dead in January 2008.

However, although Chitwood said the fourth victim’s death was “eerily similar to the other three,” detectives said Monday that “forensically” they are only certain the weapon was used in three of the homicides.

After the third murder occurred in February 2006, police began asking gun shops for information on buyers of a Smith & Wesson Sigma series .40-caliber SW40VE handgun.

But last December, Police Chief Mike Chitwood — in an effort to step up the investigation — sent gun shop owners a letter asking for an electronic list of customers who may have purchased that type of handgun. The chief wanted the names, dates of birth, addresses and telephone numbers of the buyers.

Chitwood provided gun shop owners with a list of specific serial numbers, his letter shows.

While Florida law prohibits the creation of any kind of list that names “law-abiding firearms owners,” the law also says secondhand dealers and pawn brokers “may electronically submit firearms transactions records to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.”

The statute says the law enforcement agency can’t “electronically submit” those records to anyone else and that those electronic records must be destroyed within 60 days of receipt.

Daytona Beach police asked for a list to be provided electronically, preferably via Microsoft Excel file, Chitwood’s letter says.

Scott Buckwald, co-owner of Buck’s Gun Rack on International Speedway Boulevard, said Monday he allowed Daytona Beach police to look at his shop’s records but did not provide a list to investigators.

Source: Lyda Longa for News-Journal Online.

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