After Losing Eight Stolen Guns Last Year, Waller County Sheriff Loses Some More

For the second time in less than a year, Waller County Sheriff's Office guns have gone missing.

The sheriff's office notified Waller County officials this week that, somehow, two guns have gone missing from storage — though for now, no one knows whether they've been stolen or just misplaced.

Last time, in December 2015, six handguns and two rifles, including a machine gun, were stolen from Sheriff Glenn Smith's Ford F-150 truck in broad daylight while he enjoyed some lunch inside Saltgrass Steak House in Katy. (Asked at the time why he would need to have eight guns in his truck while attending a holiday luncheon — let alone leave them unattended — Smith said he always needed to be prepared in case duty called.)

Smith, fresh off of facing months of criticism following Sandra Bland's death in county custody, seemed pretty embarrassed about the whole ordeal, telling the Houston Chronicle at the time, "I've not enjoyed having it spread over all God's creation that the sheriff lost his guns. But I'd rather have the information out there so we can find some witnesses. I am concerned about who got their hands on those guns, and that someone could use my jacket to dress up like law enforcement." He added that he was praying every day that the guns would be found.

This time around, Smith has not been so chatty; he did not return our request for comment.

Waller County Precinct 1 Commissioner John Amsler, however, is calling for an independent auditor to swoop in and investigate the sheriff's office. Amsler, saying that the prospect of guns floating around out there in the wrong hands was majorly concerning, placed the missing-gun snafu on the county commissioners' agenda next week.

"Wouldn't you think that people who had military background and law enforcement background would be very sensitive about with whom and where their weapons were at all times?" he asked. "And if that couldn't be determined on a moment's notice, there would be a problem, wouldn't there? That's what we're trying to get to here. We want to know who, where, what and when it happened."

The last time this happened, Amsler told us that he and other county officials also called for at least an internal audit, but it for some reason was never done. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told us the reason the county auditor didn't get around to the audit was that he was knee-deep in budget-related auditing. Mathis said that, actually, the county auditor was finally auditing the sheriff at the time Smith, not the auditor, discovered the missing guns — which happened "awhile ago," Mathis said. He would not specify how long the sheriff's office has known the guns have been missing, but said other county officials were not immediately notified. At least not until Smith was sure he couldn't find them, Mathis said.

Mathis also would not specify when the county auditor finally began looking into Smith's gun inventory after he lost the arsenal in his truck last year, but said the auditor is still not finished. Both Mathis and Amsler said they would be able to release more information once the matter was investigated further and it was discussed at the county commissioners' meeting Wednesday.

Which, depending on what's disclosed, might just be good timing for Smith: He is up for re-election on Tuesday.
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn