El Dorado law enforcement stops shooting plot

El Dorado police, with assistance from the Union County Sheriff's Office, thwarted an alleged plot for a shooting that was to have taken place last weekend at the Union County Fair.

An investigation into rumors about the shooting led to the arrests of three teens, all males, ages 16, 17 and 18.

The two younger boys will be adjudicated as adults and are scheduled for first appearance hearings today in the 35th Judicial District Court on multiple charges, including two counts of violation of the Uniform Machine Gun Act, with penalty enhancements for engaging in violent criminal group activity and felony with a firearm -- all felonies.

The teens also face misdemeanor charges of minor in possession of a handgun, carrying a certain prohibited weapon, fleeing on foot and obstruction of governmental operations.

Their first appearances follow that of their co-defendant, 18-year-old Braydon Weaver, who appeared in district court Monday on similar charges.

Weaver remained in the Union County jail Tuesday afternoon in lieu of a $250,000 cash or corporate surety bond.

He faces two counts of violation of the Uniform Machine Gun Act, engaging in violent or group criminal activity, possession of a handgun by a minor or on (publicly-owned buildings or facilities) and carrying a prohibited weapon.

The teens were identified as suspects in an El Dorado Police Department investigation into rumors of a potential "gang shootout" during the Union County Fair, which was held Sept. 20 - 24 in El Dorado.

Police said the rumor had been circulating around town for several weeks and on Sept. 23, they received additional information that the shooting may have been planned for Sept. 24, the last night of the fair.

After developing potential suspects and a description of the suspects' vehicle, officers who were working off-duty security detail at the fair spotted a vehicle that was similar to the description they received in the parking lot of the Union County Fairgrounds at approximately 8:40 p.m. on Sept. 24.

The car, a white Cheverolet Camaro, reportedly passed the front entrance gate before exiting the parking lot and heading east on 19th Street toward the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Police conducted a traffic stop just after the the car turned south onto MLK.

The driver, identified as the 17-year-old boy, appeared nervous and began to reach underneath the front seat, police said.

Officers said they pulled the boy from the vehicle, noting that the 16-year-old boy and Weaver were front- and rear-seat passengers, respectively.

The teens were handcuffed and detained and they reportedly refused to provide personal information -- name, age and date of birth -- upon officers' request.

During a search of the vehicle, police found three loaded handguns, two of which were fit with a "Glock Switch," a device that converts a semi-automatic handgun into a fully automatic gun and is classified as a machine gun, per federal and state laws.

One of the two handguns with "Glock Switches" had a 31-round magazine attached and the other, a 50-round drum magazine, police said.

All three guns were "loaded to capacity" and each had a live round in the chamber, according to a police report.

When officers notified the teens that they were under arrest, the two younger boys broke away from police and fled on foot.

The 16-year-old was immediately apprehended and taken to the ground on the scene.

The 17-year-old boy was taken into custody following a foot chase that wound across residential yards and ended in a wooded area several blocks away.

Officers noted that the boy had removed the handcuffs from one of his hands when they caught up to him.

Weaver was transported to the Union County jail, where he remained Tuesday afternoon.

During his first appearance hearing, Weaver was determined indigent and will be assigned a public defender.

If he is released on bond, he must abide by a daily curfew of 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. Weaver was also ordered not to have any contact with his co-defendants.

The two younger boys were transported to a juvenile detention facility in Miller County and will be brought back to El Dorado for their first appearance hearings today.

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are anticipated.

Police have said tips they received sparked an investigation and yielded arrests that potentially prevented mass casualties and injuries during the county fair.

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