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Machine guns among weapons taken in burglary at Dragonman gun range near Colorado Springs

August 28, 2017 Updated: August 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm
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Mel Bernstein, AKA Dragon Man, poses with a modern machine gun among machine guns from World War I and newer Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at Dragon Land east of Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Burglars stole about 70 weapons from the Dragonman gun range and paintball park east of Colorado Springs on Sunday night.

Mel Bernstein, owner of the business at 1200 Dragonman Drive, said the four thieves used a Dodge Power Wagon truck to smash through the front gate and garage door.

The burglary is being investigated by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Lisa Meiman, ATF spokeswoman, said Monday afternoon that “most of the firearms” had been recovered. 

“ATF agents and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office worked all night to track them down,” Meiman said.

She declined to comment on whether arrests had been made, but Bernstein said authorities told him they have apprehended two of the burglars.

Bernstein said he has known the suspects for a long time.

“Pretty stupid people,” he said. “It’s amazing they even have the ---- to do something like this. If I caught them, I would have saved the taxpayers a lot of money. Each gun they steal from a gun store is a felony; they’re looking at like over 65 felonies.”

The store is federally licensed to sell fully automatic firearms. To get that license, Bernstein had to submit to a detailed background check and fill out a form to be approved by the bureau. He must also pay a $500 annual fee.

Bernstein said a few machine guns were taken as well as 66 handguns and rifles.

The Dragon Man earned his nickname due to a Harley motorcycle he fashioned with a fire-breathing dragon head in the ‘70s.

Bernstein, a Vietnam veteran who boasts 2,000 to 2,500 guns in stock, told The Gazette in February he has 200 machine guns in his name.

He grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to Colorado Springs in 1980.

Jacqueline Kirby, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, said any gun thefts are problematic.

“It’s always concerning when any kind of firearm is stolen; it doesn’t matter whether it’s semiautomatic or not,” she said.

Gazette news partner KKTV noted that similar burglaries have happened in the Springs and Denver areas this summer, including the theft of more than 50 guns from a Thornton Cabela’s store and the theft of seven guns at Top Dollar Pawn at 275 S. Academy Blvd.

The Gazette’s Ellie Mulder contributed to the report.

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