What started as a case of shots being fired at a neighbor’s fence has led to the arrest of an 82-year-old Margate man on a variety of weapons charges, including possession of homemade explosive devices, according to police.
Francis Beck had “a large cache of firearms,” a large quantity of ammunition, and multiple homemade explosive devices in his home when authorities took him into custody Thursday, according to a news release posted on the Longport Police Department’s Facebook page Saturday.
Beck came to the attention of authorities on May 16 when a resident of 36th Avenue contacted Longport police after discovering bullet-like holes in the fence. The caller told police surveillance footage showed it was Beck who had fired those shots.
Police said they determined Beck had fired two rounds from a CO2-powered handgun from a block over on South Coolidge Avenue in Margate.
Margate police turned over the investigation to Longport police.
On Thursday, Longport police arrested Beck and initially charged him with possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of weapons, and criminal mischief.
A subsequent search of his home uncovered the collection of firearms, ammunition, and homemade explosives. The latter prompted involvement of the Atlantic City and Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Bomb Squad units, which seized the devices and declared the area safe, police said. Beck was charged with possession of destructive devices.
The statement from Longport police said Beck was released from custody pending a court hearing in accordance with New Jersey bail regulations.
In effect since 2017, the revised bail regulations — a portion of which voters approved with a ballot question — provides for defendants to undergo an analytic assessment of their criminal histories that will help determine whether they should be released or jailed pretrial. The goal, in part, was to keep people from languishing in jail awaiting trial simply because they couldn’t make bail.
Longport police would not provide any additional details Sunday. They urged anyone with relevant information to contact Sgt. Nicholas Rettino at email@example.com.