Former school guardian arrested for pawning service gun, other equipment

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A former School Guardian is under fire for pawning gear issued to him by the sheriff’s office.

According to deputies, 37-year-old Erick Russell pawned his gun, magazines and a safety vest.

Detectives arrested Russell after it was discovered he pawned his issued firearm and equipment multiple times between July 2 and August 1.

Detectives say Russell was arrested for Domestic Battery and False Imprisonment on Sept. 5. During the arrest, deputies learned Russell was employed as a school guardian and collected his issued equipment that was provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

“When they ran his name in our system, as part of that domestic violence investigation, they found the pawn records, saw what the items were, and that’s how the investigation began,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

The issued equipment included a Glock 17 9mm handgun with two magazines, a Body Armor vest, and additional items that were issued for the sole purpose of performing the duties of a School Guardian.

Through the investigation, detectives were informed that Russell had previously pawned his issued firearm, magazines and vest, on multiple occasions, at Value Pawn located at 29661 US 19 North in Clearwater.

Detectives say Russell pawned his issued Glock 17 9mm firearm for $200 on July 3 and on July 17 for $60.00.

He pawned two issued Glock 17 9mm magazines on July 2 for $10.00, and on August 1, 2019 for $15.00.

Russell also pawned his issued Body Armor vest on July 26 for $200.00.

Authorities say he would then re-purchase the pawned items on later dates.

On Sept. 18, at approximately 5:35 p.m., detectives interviewed Russell at the Sheriff’s Administration Building located at 10750 Ulmerton Road in Largo.

During the interview, Russell admitted to pawning the issued firearm and equipment due to needing gas money.

“This was never a situation where he was selling anything. What he was doing is trying to put gas in his car and food on the table,” Gualtieri said. “It’s really a very sad situation for somebody that is down on her luck. Going through some tough financial times, having problems with his wife and getting involved in a domestic incident. You know, people have hard times in their lives and sometimes do desperate things.”

Detectives arrested Russell and charged him with five counts of False Verification of Ownership.

Russell was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident.

The investigation continues.

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