Cops: Seaford man hid weapons in bed compartment

Jonathan G. Erler of Seaford was arrested on multiple weapons and drug charges after police said he was pulled over for "a vehicle and traffic violation." Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Jan. 24, 2013)

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A police traffic stop of a Seaford man uncovered an arsenal of weapons including illegal guns, daggers, brass knuckles and a rifle telescope inside a hidden mechanical compartment of the suspect's bed, Nassau police said Thursday.

Jonathan G. Erler, 29, of 2055 Seamans Neck Rd., the owner of the Twisted Glass head shop in Wantagh, was arrested Wednesday after police said he was pulled over for talking on a cellphone near his home and officers found a flintlock rifle and drugs in his 2004 Subaru.

That find set off a subsequent search of his home that uncovered six "assault" weapons, five high-capacity ammunition feeding clips, Chinese throwing stars, two bulletproof vests, marijuana and nearly $5,000 in cash, police said

"These are some of the weapons the Nassau County Police Department is trying to get off the street," Insp. Kenneth Lack said at a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola.

Police Thursday laid out dozens of the defendant's weapons -- including multiple 9 mm and 22 mm handguns, ammunition and massive 50 mm bullets.

The assault weapons included an AK-47 and two Fabrique Nationale assault rifles, which are illegal under state law, Lack said. Some guns had accessories like illegal flash suppressors, he said.

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Erler is charged with third-degree criminal possession of marijuana, fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and six counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

He was arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead and ordered held on bail of $11,000 cash or $22,000 bond. He is to return to court Monday.

He posted bail Thursday and was released, officials said. Erler was represented by the Legal Aid Society, which does not comment on cases. Erler, back home Thursday afternoon, would not comment.

James Moore, 53, Erler's neighbor, said he was uneasy about the incident: "It doesn't make me feel too good to know he had a big arsenal and drugs in there . . . That goes beyond protecting your home."

Det. Sgt. Patrick Ryder said the special bed compartment where the guns were kept operated "on pistons that would rise up, and that's where he hid those weapons."

Ryder said Erler made admissions about why he had the weapons but police declined to divulge them.

Lack said Erler is a licensed handgun owner whose permit was suspended. His shop sells bongs and smoking paraphernalia. Several glass bongs were also seized from his home. Cops said they found nothing illegal at the shop.

Lack said there is no reason to believe Erler was planning an attack "but that's certainly part of the investigation." He declined to comment on whether Erler was being targeted by police.

Erler was stopped by the Criminal Intelligence Rapid Response Team, an elite group that develops intelligence for criminal cases and targets areas affected by burglaries, drugs and robberies.

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It also seizes weapons. Since March, the 14-person team has made 886 arrests and seized 29 guns in addition to the ones seized Thursday, Ryder said.

Police said the Asset Forfeiture Criminal Investigative Rapid Response Team, Seventh Squad detectives and the Arson Bomb Squad were part of the investigation.

With Gary Dymski, John

Valenti and Zachary R. Dowdy

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