Crime

Puyallup man often traded meth for guns, court documents say

A Puyallup felon who allegedly was trading methamphetamine for guns faces 27 firearms charges and one count of possessing a stolen vehicle.

Steven Paul Thornton, 35, was arrested Monday after a bench warrant was issued Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court.

In addition to the stolen vehicle possession charge, he faces seven counts of possession of a stolen firearm and 20 counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

According to court documents:

Thornton rented a storage unit in the 6600 block of 114th Avenue Court East in Puyallup under a friend’s name because of an active felony arrest warrant issued in 2014.

Puyallup police detectives were tipped off that Thornton was using the storage unit and arrived July 7 to find him astride a motorcycle in a trailer outside the unit. His girlfriend was driving his truck, to which the trailer was hitched.

Thornton was arrested.

As he was being detained, the girlfriend got out of the truck and started screaming to her mother, who was in the truck, to close the storage unit. She also swore at the detectives, who put her in hand restraints.

Officers saw a pistol sticking out from under the driver’s seat of the truck, and determined the dirt bike had been stolen from Tacoma in June.

Thornton denied the bike was stolen, and said there were guns in the storage unit that belonged to his cousin. Detectives found two gun safes, the keys to which were on Thornton’s key chain.

Inside the unit were:

▪ 16 rifles, including two called “assault rifles” and an M1 Garand.

▪ Four shotguns.

▪ Six handguns, including a flintlock pistol.

Seven of the guns were stolen — four from unincorporated Pierce County, and one each from Puyallup, Tacoma, and Kingston, New York.

Thornton’s cousin was interviewed in jail, saying it’s common knowledge Thornton traded meth for firearms, even if they are stolen.

The cousin said Thornton kept the gun safes and the guns in his home but moved them to the storage unit because a mutual friend feared Thornton was being watched.

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker

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