ORLANDO, Fla. - A University of Central Florida student was arrested Tuesday after police said he had a modified AR-15 in his car parked at an on-campus dormitory.
UCF police said Max Bennett Chambers, 19, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, was arrested on felony charges of possessing a machine gun and a bump fire stock.
Although Chambers did not have a bump stock devices, the drop-in auto sear, or DIAS, device police said he was making fall under Florida's ban on bump stocks and similar devices that can turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic rifles. DIAS are prohibited in Florida as part of the bump stock ban that took effect in October. A federal ban on bump stocks, including DIAS devices, takes effect this March.
"It's simple. In Florida, possession of devices that turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one is illegal. Period," UCF Police Chief Carl Metzger said.
Police said an anonymous Crimeline tip led them to Chambers, who had a modified AR-15; two completed rifle accessories known as DIAS and one in the manufacturing process. Police said they also found knives that violated campus housing policy; and several legally owned firearms that were in compliance with university policy.
"He knowingly and flagrantly disregarded the law and that’s unacceptable to us," Metzger said. "I don’t think anyone would find it a good idea to have a machine gun on a college campus."
News 6 reporter Jerry Askin asked Metzger why Chambers brought the machine gun on campus.
"We believe he’s an enthusiast who put his interest in firearms above complying with the law," the chief said.
DIAS are internal devices that when installed, increase the rate of fire, turning a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon, police said. UCF police said they tested the modified AR-15 found in Chambers' car and were able to fire 19 rounds with the single pull of a trigger.
Police said Chambers did not threaten anyone and are still investigating whether he planned to sell the DIAS devices.
"We believe he is an enthusiast who put his interests above the law," Metzger said, adding at no time did Chambers threaten anyone.
“However, any violation of state law and university policies related to firearms is concerning in this day and age," Metzger said. “We’re grateful for the anonymous reporting and our partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, both of which enabled us to take swift action and get these illegal devices off our campus. We can’t say it enough: If you see something, say something, and we’ll do something.”
Crimeline Executive Director Barb Bergin said the anonymous tipster will receive an award, including an extra $1,000 as part of Florida's Gun Bounty reward.
Bergin supports the police chief's message of "See something, say something."
"In these situations where there are extremely dangerous firearms you should call," Bergin said.
In accordance with state law, university policy allows adults to possess lawfully concealed firearms or weapons within a private conveyance, such as a vehicle, as long as the items are securely encased or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use. The policy prohibits the possession, use or storage of weapons on university owned or controlled property, including residence halls.
UCF police said officers talked to Chambers last spring regarding a weapons policy violation in his on-campus residence. Chambers was in possession of a part of a firearm, which is not illegal but was a violation of campus policies, police said.
"I believe it was an upper part of a rifle, it wasn’t the complete rifle that was found in his room. Again, that was not illegal, but it was a violation of university policy," Metzger said.
Officers said they explained the laws about weapons to Chambers then.
"You would think at that point," Metzger said. "He would have gotten the message."
Many students on campus said they were shocked after the incident, but glad it was reported.
"More people should do it," student Lorencio Tizol said. "This is a classic case that may have prevented something."
For UCF freshman Alexandria Sanchez, a student having a modified machine gun at UCF brings back bitter memories.
"I’m from (the) Miami area and a lot of friends were from Parkland, so it’s scares me because I know a lot of people who have been in a shooting before," Sanchez said.
Cynthia Yonker said her son lives in the same dorm where police said the add-on devices were found inside of Chambers' room.
"That’s really scary. I really don’t know what to say (to) that. It really stuns me," Yonker said.
A judge set Chambers bail at $5,150. He bonded out of the Orange County Jail Wednesday afternoon.
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