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082318-nws-guns (copy)

The Rooster store in Rapid City.

A Fairburn man has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison after helping another man steal 24 handguns from a Rapid City store last August and trading at least two of them for methamphetamine. 

Zephaniah Thompson, 29, was sentenced June 6 at the federal court in Rapid City after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting a firearm theft, a crime with a maximum 10-year sentence. After serving time in prison, he will spend two years on supervised release. 

As part of the plea deal that landed him 4.75 years in prison, prosecutors dropped charges of firearm theft, possessing stolen guns and having guns with an obliterated serial number. 

Thompson dropped Matthew Keifer off at The Rooster store on West Main Street early on Aug. 22, 2018, according to factual basis documents they signed. Keifer used a crowbar to open a locked back door and stole 24 handguns.

Thompson picked up Keifer who listened to the police scanner as Thompson drove them back to his home in Fairburn, where a tool was used to remove the serial numbers from several of the guns. 

The pair brought some of the guns to Rapid City, where they traded at least two of them for meth, the documents says. Keifer gave some of the remaining guns to Thompson and the rest were moved to a Rapid City home associated with Keifer. 

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On Aug. 23, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found a man with a gun they realized was stolen from the Rooster and that Keifer sold him the gun, the documents say.

That same day, the documents say, law enforcement was surveilling the Rapid City home associated with Keifer and noticed Thompson's pickup parked outside, the documents say. They then saw Thompson leave the house and drive away with a bag. Law enforcement pulled Thompson over and found several guns, including four from The Rooster burglary. 

After serving a search warrant, law enforcement found 15 of the stolen weapons inside and eventually recovered 22 or the 24 stolen guns, the documents say.

Keifer, who pleaded guilty to firearm theft, is set to be sentenced Aug. 5 and will have to pay $11,199 in restitution to The Rooster. It's unclear if Thompson and Keifer are still facing charges in state court

The 2018 robbery was the second time in three years that firearms were stolen from the The Rooster, which had decided to stop selling guns and operate exclusively as a fishing store.

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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