Lexington, Kentucky (LEX 18) – *** Watch the full story at 7 a.m. in the evening edition ***
Like fingerprints, guns leave clues. They are collected in a used shell or shell casing that was tested by the police when the weapon was collected.
“Each weapon has its own fingerprint,” said Lt. Matthew Greathouse of the Lexington Police Department. “He intends to leave those particular marks.”
What is invisible to the human eye, visible to technology. The Lexington Police Department uses an internal computer system run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
It’s called NIBIN: National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. Save thousands of 3D images of shell casings to see if they are related to other crimes.
“The computer will come back and tell you if this is a potential match,” Lt. Greathouse said.
What you might call a ‘smoking gun’ of ballistic evidence helped solve the 2017 shooting of 11-year-old Amaya Catching. Stay paralyzed after hitting a ball At a birthday party.
“It was one of the things we didn’t know we could fix because nobody saw anything,” Lt. Greathouse said.
With NIBIN’s help, the envelope of an unrelated “call to fire” was previously linked to Amaya’s shooting.
Further investigative work led the police to Carlos Jenkins. Carlos Jenkins was killed and 50 years old for a crime.
“We never got the gun back, in which case we could take two cartridge cases and combine them,” Lt. Greathouse said.
Some shell envelopes can be as small or as small as the tip of a pencil, but the evidence gathered from the marks can be enormous.
Georgetown Police say a gun was recovered from the March shooting May be related to filming in Lexington He permanently blinded a 5 year old.
It’s still preliminary, but it’s the start of finding out who shot Malakai Roberts’ house last December while he was sleeping next to his mother.
This year alone there have been 52 shootings in Lexington, killing 16 people.
“Obviously these investigations are still ongoing,” said Lt. Greathouse. “I have already seen three guns linked to murders this year.”
ATF oversees 245 NIBIN systems in police stations across the country. There are three in Kentucky. NIBIN’s Alabama Hub Firearms Examiner analyzed and cataloged 4 million images of cartridge cases.
In April, 5,000 leads were transmitted to the police.
Shawn Morrow, a Louisville Field Division special agent, says the more NIBIN you use, the more likely you are to connect dots and do so faster.
“If you collect all the evidence and not all the submissions, you don’t know what crime you are missing,” Morrow said.
Police pointed out that NIBIN’s “beatings” did not confirm anything. They are more of a compass to guide them to the truth.
Technology can speed up investigations, but Lt. Greathouse says it still requires old-fashioned detective work to solve crimes.
“We guarantee that the Lexington Police Department will do everything in its power to locate the perpetrators of the crimes that are behind the violent shootings in Lexington,” said Lt. Greathouse.