A Goldsboro man found with a loaded AR-15 automatic rifle in the Stevens Mill Road area was arrested and charged Thursday with possessing a weapon of mass destruction.
Bradley Harper, 34, of 4547 Stevens Mill Road, was arrested and charged with one felony count of possession of a weapon of mass death and destruction and one felony count of transporting a weapon of mass death and destruction, according to Wayne County Sheriff’s Office reports.
Harper was being investigated for possible weapons charges after a deputy seized the AR-15 rifle during a routine traffic stop Sunday on Stevens Mill Road.
Deputy Tyler Kelly, with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, was patrolling the area and witnessed Harper’s vehicle drifting left to right on the road and drifting left over the center line three times. After following Harper for 2 miles, Kelly pulled him over for unsafe moving violations.
As Kelly approached the vehicle, he saw an AR-15 rifle lying on the dashboard and asked if he could have the gun, as a safety precaution, during the traffic stop. Harper agreed and handed over the gun.
Kelly, who has military experience, noticed that the gun’s safety lock was off. After turning the safety on, Kelly unloaded the weapon. He also noticed the gun appeared to be altered, and discovered that the fire selector could be switched to a fully automatic firing position. AR-15 rifles, which can sell for $1,000, are manufactured as semi-automatic guns.
The deputy confiscated the weapon for further investigation and issued a warning. At the time, it was unclear if Harper had a permit for the gun.
On Thursday morning, deputies responded to a possible breaking and entering call in the 4000 block of Stevens Mill Road and found Harper and a female at the scene. Deputies determined that a breaking and entering had not taken place.
At the scene, Harper was arrested on the weapons charges, following an investigation this week that confirmed that the AR-15 rifle had fully automatic firing capabilities.
A firearm capable of automatic firing is classified as a “weapon of mass death and destruction,” under N.C. General Statute 14-288.8(c). The transportation, sale, purchase, delivery or acquisition of a weapon of mass death and destruction without proper licensing or permit is a Class F felony.
Harper was booked in the Wayne County jail under a $100,000 secured bond.