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NEW YORK (AP) — A handgun used to fatally shoot a New York Police Department officer a few days ago was among 23 stolen from a Georgia pawn shop and is the ninth to be recovered on the city's streets.
Two of the handguns taken from Little's Bait & Tackle Pawn Shop in Perry, Georgia, in the middle of the night on Oct. 3, 2011, were found by police in the Bronx within a few months of that burglary during arrests that are now sealed, authorities said Tuesday.
Another was found after a police sergeant in the Bronx stopped a motorist, an arrest that led to gun and drug charges, court papers show. Five others were seized during investigations police wouldn't discuss: two in 2011, three in 2013.
The ninth weapon, a .38-caliber five-shooter, was used Saturday. Officer Brian Moore and his partner suspected Demetrius Blackwell of carrying a gun in his waistband, and they were fired at three times almost as soon as they confronted him, police said. Moore, shot in the head, died two days later.
Nell Little, a sister-in-law of Little's Bait & Tackle Pawn Shop owner Rufus Clarence Little, said she felt terrible about the gun's use in Moore's killing.
"You can't feel good about something like that," Little said. "I'm all upset about why everybody thinks cops are bad. Some are good and some are bad, but if this keeps up we're not gonna have anybody to protect us."
Police seized another handgun taken from Little's store during an arrest in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, last May, authorities said.
Firearms stolen or illegally purchased in states with less stringent gun laws than New York, mostly in the South, are regularly trafficked north through an underground black market, investigators say.
There were 4,022 such guns recovered in New York City in 2013, according to the most recent statistics available from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Little's store, which has a federal firearms license, was burglarized by two men who smashed glass countertop displays holding the guns, Perry police and Little said. There have been no arrests. A month later the shop was burglarized again, and 12 long guns and shotguns were taken, Perry police Capt. Heath Dykes said.
In December, after a mentally ill man who bragged online of killing "pigs" shot two uniformed police officers in their patrol car in Brooklyn, investigators tracked that weapon to another Georgia pawn shop 90 miles south of Perry. However, it had been legally purchased before winding up in the hands of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who killed himself in a subway station shortly after the officers' shooting.
On Tuesday, dozens of NYPD officers stood at attention as a hearse carrying Moore's body arrived at a funeral home.
"He was just the greatest guy," Moore's friend Pat Davis said outside. "He was like a brother to me."
A funeral for the 25-year-old Moore, whose cousin, father and uncle were NYPD members, will be held Friday.
Blackwell will be charged with first-degree murder, an upgraded count from attempted murder and other crimes he already faced, prosecutors said. He's being held without bail, and his attorney has denied the charges.
His cousin Kory Blackwell, who played for the New York Giants, issued a statement condemning violence.
"For years, our family tried to help Demetrius lead a more productive and law abiding life," he said. "My heart goes out to the family for their tragic loss."
Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.
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