Detective Mark Jamieson says a man standing outside the buyback event bought the military weapon for $100 from another person at the event. The item, a single-use device that had already been used, is a launch tube assembly for a Stinger portable surface-to-air missile.
Several people at the buyback then notified officers they had seen the man was walking around outside the area with the missile launcher.
Officers spoke to the man, who was cooperative, and told police that he had just purchased it. Officers then inspected the launcher and determined that it was unarmed. However, police confiscated the weapon because it is considered a controlled military item, Jamieson said.
He says detectives will notify the Army Criminal Investigation on Monday.
Jamieson says the launcher is not supposed to be available to civilians through any surplus or disposal program offered by the government. He says it is most likely that the launch tube was previously obtained unlawfully from the military, and would likely be returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Army to dispose of.
The man who purchased the launcher agreed to accept a gift card in exchange for the weapon in case it is not returned to him.