KALKASKA, Mich. (AP) – A man who found a state trooper’s handgun in a northern Michigan grocery store bathroom has been charged with failing to report the weapon. But the trooper who left the loaded firearm behind wasn’t punished.
The unnamed trooper, who was off-duty at the time, was from the Wayland Post in Allegan County. He used the restroom inside a Kalkaska supermarket on May 20 and accidentally left the gun on top of the toilet paper dispenser, said state police spokeswoman Shanon Banner.
The trooper remains on active duty, she said.
“He certainly had to answer internally for what happened,” Banner told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “He did not face disciplinary action, because it was determined to be human error.
“He didn’t attempt to hide it or cover it up. In this case, as soon as the trooper realized he did not have the weapon, he made immediate contact with his commander.”
Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault said the man who found the weapon, Timothy Alan Flanagan, is in trouble because he took the opposite approach.
“If you come across a firearm, the appropriate response is to report it,” the prosecutor said. “Same if you find a wallet on the sidewalk. You should report it.”
Flanagan, 49, is facing a 10-year prison sentence. The Fife Lake resident said it’s not fair he faces felony charges of larceny of a firearm and receiving and concealing a firearm while the trooper wasn’t punished, especially considering the gun was left in a public restroom where a child potentially could have come across it.
Flanagan took the gun home with “all intentions” of calling police, but he feared repercussions as time passed, so he left it locked in a shed on his property, he said. He had the weapon for six weeks before a family member told sheriff’s deputies about the weapon on July 5.
“I should have done things a lot differently, but don’t feel (I) should be criminally charged for keeping it safe,” he said.
Flanagan’s jury trial is scheduled for Dec. 17.
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