Cult of Guns: Cops Find Arsenal in Headquarters of Brooklyn Group

Newsday/November 13, 1996
By Graham Rayman

Police last night widened their search of a Brooklyn brownstone where they discovered a large firearms and munitions cache Monday night linked to a radical left-wing cult.

In all, 85 people -- 16 men and 19 women -- were arrested. Yesterday, police charged four women and one man with illegal weapons possession. A fifth woman was arrested on child welfare allegations. An investigation of the others was continuing last night.

Deputy Insp. Michael Collins said earlier that investigators planned to search other apartments at 1107 Carroll St. and two adjacent buildings, owned by a group identified by police as the Provisional Party of Communists.

At about 9 p.m. Monday, police officers were called to the four-story Carroll Street building by state child welfare officials, who had been refused entry while attempting to investigate a child-abuse complaint.

After a delay, police were allowed inside the building. "They wouldn't let us in the door, and we felt the kids were in danger," said Det. Mark Patterson, a police spokesman.

During a search for the children, police found 16 handguns, 26 rifles and six shotguns, including two semi-automatic Tommy guns, and thousands of rounds of ammunition behind a false wall in a closet.

The closet was located in a second-floor apartment which had been converted into an office. Cops also discovered five pounds of gunpowder, eight sets of handcuffs, three blackjacks and 13 knives. A police source said investigators also found floor plans to the 67th Precinct, but Collins said he had no information about that.

Lisa Ann Burns, 27, of 1111 Carroll St., the apparent target of the child-abuse probe, was arrested for allegedly striking her daughter several days ago. Arrested on the illegal weapons charges were: Ann Ribar, 46, Diane Garrett, 45; Debra Becker, 36, Susan Angus, 45, and Bradford Engle, 39.

Child welfare workers have taken custody of Burns' two children. In February, 1984, FBI agents served search warrants at the same address and recovered several firearms but they made no arrests, said FBI spokesman Joe Valiquette. The case was referred to the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. Valiquette declined to comment on the group's background or on what prompted agents to raid the building in 1984.

Based on reports from police and neighbors, the group, which also owned two adjacent buildings, appeared to be in the process of converting the building into a headquarters.

The second-floor office was stuffed with files, documents, desks, typewriters, computers, cabinets, a large meeting table and a commercial cooking stove, Collins said.

A police investigator who asked not to be named said yesterday evening that police were searching additional apartments at 1107 Carroll St.

The basement, which was linked by a courtyard to the other buildings, held storerooms full of food.

The group owned the buildings under the business name Carroll Street Properties, and rented a mailbox at the Post Net outlet on Schermerhorn Street as a business address.

Samuel Ganz of Post Net said someone came every day to pick up the mail. "They are quite friendly on the phone. They lways pay on time," he said. "I'm shocked at the whole idea that they were involved in something like this."

Several residents of the buildings charged that the group had been pressuring nonmembers living in the buildings to move out. "Everybody is afraid of them. You don't know what they are going to do," said one woman, who asked not to be identified.

Tenants said they were forbidden to enter the basement, or go outside in the courtyard.

Mae M. Cheng, Leonard Levitt and Dan Morrison contributed to this story.

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