Neighbor speaks, man arrested after 7,000+ stolen guns found near Pageland

Published: Oct. 24, 2015 at 3:48 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 23, 2015 at 4:48 PM EST
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(Photos from law enforcement source)
(Photos from law enforcement source)
Brent Nicholson (Source: Union County Sheriff's Office)
Brent Nicholson (Source: Union County Sheriff's Office)

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Deputies estimate that they've seized between 7,000 and 10,000 stolen guns from a house and warehouse near Pageland. Brent Nicholson was arrested in connection to the stolen goods.

Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks says the seized guns, ammunition, and hundreds of other items were all found on a single property off of Highway 9 outside of Pageland city limits.

Brooks says the guns and ammunition filled multiple tractor trailers.

"We honestly passed guns from one person to the other as fast as you could for 9 straight hours," said Brooks.

Nicholson was arrested and charged with trafficking opium and heroin, earlier in the week in Union County. Deputies reportedly went to serve him with a subpoena Friday and noticed what appeared to be stolen goods in his front yard.

The deputies say they wrote out the reports for the stolen property just days before.

The raid started Friday night, according to SLED. It's reportedly part of an ongoing investigation involving multiple jurisdictions that could have ties to counties in North Carolina as well. Sheriffs from other jurisdictions were there as well as SLED and ATF.

"None of us have ever seen anything anywhere close to this," Brooks said. "No telling how many break-ins this will help wrap up."

Over 100 law enforcement officials were on the scene Friday and Saturday. Brooks says 20 agents will be sifting through the evidence "piece by piece" starting Monday. Their goal will be to eventually find the rightful owners. Deputies estimate that 99 percent of the seized goods were stolen.

Brooks says Nicholson lived at the home where the items were found. It is believed that other people stole the guns for him.

Rusty Fender says he has lived next to Nicholson his entire life and never suspected the hoarding of weapons.

"He's always been a good cat, but you know, people do things," said Fender.

Fender said the discovery of the weapons scared him and explained that the recent investigation has raised a lot of questions.

"What was you thinking? Why was you collecting that many firearms? What was you planning on doing with them? I mean was you planning on starting a riot?" questioned Fender.

When asked what Nicholson was doing with so many guns, Brooks said, "(he) looks like a gun hoarder to be honest with you." Deputies have found no evidence that he ever sold any of the guns.

"You know he just had 7,000 guns," Brooks said. "99.9 percent are hunting rifles and shot guns."

Brooks called the items found a "menagerie" of stolen property which also includes 150 chainsaws, 4-wheelers, and taxidermy supplies.

"People would steal anything and bring it to him and they knew he would pay them cash for it. It perpetuated home burglaries and car break-ins and just theft," Brooks said.

Fender said he can't remember a bigger event happening near Pageland during his years living in the area. He explained that ultimately he is happy the weapons have been seized.

"I don't understand why he done the things he done, but I'm glad it's off the streets."

Nicholson and his father ran a liquor store in Pageland, but according to Brooks it's been on his radar for a long time in connection to cases of stolen property.

Nicholson remains in jail.

Brooks said the solicitor's office has asked a circuit judge to preside over Nicholson's bond hearing, which could come later this week.

For gun owners who believe their property was stolen, Brooks said his office will return the property as long as owners can prove it belongs to them.

Warrants were also drawn up for his fathers home, their liquor store, and a farm that Nicholson owned.

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