The assault rifle used in a deadly rampage at a Nevada IHOP a month ago was a Chinese-made version of an AK-47 that had been converted into an illegal, fully automatic weapon, investigators said Wednesday as they provided new details about the firepower possessed by the mentally unstable gunman.
Eduardo Sencion fired 60 rounds from the Norinco Mak 90 sport rifle-turned-machine gun at the Carson City IHOP on Sept. 6, killing four people and injuring seven others, Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said. He had another 450 rounds of AK-47 ammunition in his van along with two other weapons _ a legal, semi-automatic AK-47 and a Glock handgun, investigators said. Deputies also found a .38-caliber revolver near his body that he used to kill himself, the sheriff said.
Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined the illegal rifle used in the killings last was sold by a private party in California to an unknown buyer more than five years ago, Furlong said.
Authorities have been unable to locate any record of the gun since then, but the sheriff said his deputies continue to investigate the source of the weapon alterations and "the identities of those who owned the weapon previous to Sencion."
"According to ATF, it looked like a pretty good job," Carson City Undersheriff Steve Albertsen said of the fully-automatic modification. He acknowledged it will be difficult to track the ownership. Background checks are not required for private party sales in Nevada, he said.
"We want to know who sold our suspect the gun, but we may not ever know," Albertsen said.
"A private party doesn't have to register unless it is fully automatic and ATF doesn't know when it was converted," he said.
Investigators said it appears the 32-year-old Sencion never requested a concealed-carry weapons permit in Nevada and never requested any permits through the Federal Firearms Licensing process.
Family members told authorities shortly after the shooting that Sencion was diagnosed as schizophrenic and had been taking medications. He was taken into protective custody by South Lake Tahoe police during a mental health commitment in April 2000 but he was not charged with any crime.
Albertsen said that even if a background check had been required for the private gun sale, Sencion's mental health issues may not have surfaced.