An Antioch father is thanking a Murfreesboro father for turning in his service weapon when he found it near a park in Murfreesboro.
Billy Jones Jr. found a Glock handgun, hollow point bullets, handcuffs and a duty belt as he walked home after a night out with friends early Sunday morning.
Jones turned the items into MTSU police, who then turned them over to Murfreesboro police when they realized that the weapon was not assigned to any of their officers.
Security officer Joe Watts saw the story on Nashville's News 2 and immediately had a feeling the items were his.
Watts works as a security guard at an area hospital where he is armed. He also works security at a Mt. Juliet business where he wears a different uniform and does not carry his service weapon.
Someone broke into his car while he was at his second job and stole his backpack with is clothes and duty belt sometime after midnight Sunday.
Watts reported the theft when he discovered his backpack missing after he left work at his second job.
“The first thing that I thought was extreme fear I was wondering what would happen if it was used in a criminal offense,” Watts said. “The next thing I felt was emotional upheaval due to the fact it is my service weapon.”
He continued, “I was pretty upset.”
Jones was walking home after a night out with friends in Murfreesboro around 3:00 am Sunday along East Main Street near Lassiter Street when he spotted the duty belt lying in a ditch near a park.
He spoke exclusively to Nashville's News 2 on Monday.
“I was shocked that there was a loaded pistol lying here,” he said. “There is a lot of children around this area and this is a public facility where people play.”
The gun was near soccer fields and running track.
“I would be outraged if [my daughter] came home to me with a pistol 2:26
A friend watching Nashville's News 2 at 10 saw the report and alerted Watts. He immediately pulled the story up on WKRN.com.
“Initially right off that bat I knew it was mine,” Watts said. “I thought it was too much of that same stuff to come up missing, especially in Middle Tennessee and no law enforcement agency had reported anything stolen.”
Watts went to the Murfreesboro Police Department where the gun was being held and confirmed through his records that the gun found was his Tuesday morning.
He was able to get all of the found items back, but his backpack and uniforms are still missing.
Watts, who is the father of four children and a former marine, was relieved to hear Jones turned over the items he found instead of keeping them.
“I am very grateful to him,” he said. “[Jones] did a very responsible thing. Some folks they would have taken it.”
Watts continued, “To be honest with you I never thought it would be recovered.”
Mt. Juliet Police continue to search for the person or people responsible for breaking into Watts' car.
If you have any information about the theft you should contact the Mt. Juliet Police Department at 615-754-2550.
- March 11, 2013: Dad finds loaded gun, ammo near MTSU campus