PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence police have arrested a man for illegally selling weapons he claims were stolen, as court documents show the missing guns include dozens more than originally reported.
Rashaan Mangum, 29, of Providence, was charged Monday with unlawful sales of concealable weapons and unlawful firearms to prohibited person, along with three other charges.
On Aug. 12, Mangum reported to police that 52 guns had been stolen from his basement, claiming someone had pushed in a window AC unit while he was away on Cape Cod, but he didn’t notice the missing weapons until nearly two weeks later, according to police.
But court records show police were skeptical of Mangum’s story, writing there were “numerous inconsistencies in Mangum’s account for his whereabouts over the ten day period.” An investigation into the claims also revealed the number of missing weapons totaled 85 rather than 52, according to court documents.
A U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent questioned Mangum about the suspected theft and learned “Mangum failed to disclose” the additional firearms were also stolen.
“Mangum revealed that there were additional firearms that he had purchased in the past year that were not included in his list of firearms that he had reported stolen,” police said. “The final count was totaled to be approximately 85 firearms.”
Police allege Mangum visited five different gun shops in Rhode Island – often multiple times – and spent at least $41,000 on guns and ammunition between April and July. At one Woonsocket gun shop, Mangum spent more than $29,000 in a roughly three-month period, including $9,700 in one day alone, according to a police affidavit.
Mangum is accused of illegally selling the weapons through a middleman named Trayquan Mitchell, 28, of North Providence, was was also charged as part of the investigation.
Police said Mangum would text Mitchell to work out deals with another buyer. In one exchange, Mangum told Mitchell there was a seven-day waiting period to purchase a gun and Mitchel writes “we’ll give u money now to lock them in,” according to court documents.
Police said Mitchell also urged Mangum to buy extended magazines (high capacity magazines) dubbed “extends” to make the guns more appealing to potential buyers.
“Bro you got to buy extends,” Mitchell writes in a text. “That sells ‘em in the hood.”
Mangum indicated in one communication that he also needed money to install a “switch” on a gun, referring to the conversion of a semiautomatic firearm into a fully automatic firearm, according to police.
A search of Mangum’s phone showed he had searched the internet for information on “how many guns are lost or stolen each year” and “states that do not require stolen firearm reports,” according to court documents.
Five days after Mangum reported the guns stolen, undercover detectives said they saw him placing a bag in a trash barrel outside Mitchell’s house. Minutes later, a pickup truck driven by “an older white male” retrieved the bag from the barrel.
A search of that person’s house revealed “a firearm described as a Springfield Armory .45 caliber pistol,” police said. “This firearm was later reported as stolen by Mangum.”
The cache of weapons has gone missing at the same time violence is on the rise in Providence. The 14 shootings this year is double the seven reported during the same period last year, and homicides are growing at a faster clip than 2019, according to police statistics.
Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements commended investigators in the intelligence unit and other agencies that worked on the case, which he called a “major-league investigation that is active and intense.”
Mangum pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and a judge set bail at $30,000 surety. His attorney Artin Coloian declined to comment when reached by phone.
Mitchell pleaded not guilty to one charge of unlawful sales of concealable weapons and one count unlawful sales of firearms to prohibited person and also had bail set at $30,000 surety.
Eli Sherman contributed to this report