Gun shop owner: Business was wronged by news story

Gun shop owner: Business was wronged by news story »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The owner of Bear Mountain Sports claims his business suffered potential damage as a result of a news story about a felon who was arrested for allegedly being in possession of assault weapons.

The story aired on Oct. 5. Bakersfield police had gone to the home of Andrew Garcia to investigate a case of check forgery. While searching his house on Gage Street, police said they found 59 weapons, including assault weapons.

Garcia was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of assault weapons and ammunition.

Eyewitness News talked with neighbors and family members of Garcia and shot video of Garcia's home and a truck parked in the driveway.

The truck had a decal on it that read "Bear Mountain Sports," which was visible from the street. It was also visible on the video that aired that night.

"The obvious implication being that this felon had purchased 59 weapons from Bear Mountain Sports, and that's just not the case," said Loren Kleier, attorney for Gene Thome, owner of Bear Mountain Sports.

Kleier said a few customers have been asking Thome if, in fact, Bear Mountain Sports had sold any guns to Garcia.

"We don't have any people calling and saying, 'I was going to buy a gun from you, but now I'm going to some other place.' But that doesn't mean there haven't been people that thought about coming down here and then saw that article," said Kleier.

In a jailhouse interview, Garcia said he was under the impression that a prior felony conviction had been reduced to a misdemeanor, and he did not know he had done anything wrong.

"I've had (guns) since '77, and I've been collecting them, I've hunted, I just had them at my house," said Garcia.

He also said his arrest is "very embarrassing" for him and his high-profile family. Garcia said he is the brother of former Shafter mayor Fran Florez and uncle to former state senator Dean Florez.