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Historic Colt .45 seized from felon triggers hunt for owner

The arrest of a convicted felon this week unearthed a piece of American history and police are now looking for help in finding its true owner.

According to court documents, deputies with the Island County Sheriff’s Office took Anthony Herrmann into custody Sunday for allegedly firing a handgun in the front yard of his girlfriend’s home just south of Oak Harbor.

Following his arrest, police searched the trailer he was living in and recovered a 1911 Colt .45 government model semi-automatic pistol in pristine condition. Authorities say the century-old gun is probably stolen.

“It’s a collection item; it’s unique,” Island County Sheriff Lt. Mike Hawley said. “We’d certainly like to return it to the family as it’s probably an heirloom.”

The 1911 handgun has a long history, serving as the U.S. armed force’s standard-issue sidearm for nearly 75 years. It saw widespread use in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam.

According to Hawley, no information came back about the recovered pistol despite an exhaustive search of its serial numbers.

However, given the weapon’s pristine condition and the large number of veterans living near Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Hawley said it likely belongs to a former serviceman.

How Herrmann got the gun is still unknown. Court documents say his girlfriend called 911 from the lobby of the Island County Jail in Coupeville at 12:25 p.m. on Feb. 6, after fleeing from her home.

According to Hawley’s report, the woman claimed that Herrmann had fired the gun in her front yard. The man is legally barred from her residence, but had permission to live in a trailer situated on the property.

Hawley and a fellow deputy arrived to find Herrmann in the house. He answered the door and appeared to be intoxicated, the affidavit said.

Hawley wrote that Herrmann denied any knowledge of the gun and refused to let deputies search the trailer. He was placed under arrest on suspicion of trespassing and was transported to jail.

After getting a search warrant, Hawley and two other officers discovered the handgun and a box of ammunition under a bed in the trailer. As a convicted felon, Herrmann is not allowed to have a gun and was booked for unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree.

He was being held on $10,000 bail but it was posted and he was released Feb. 9, according to Island County Jail officials.

Anyone with knowledge about the firearm is asked to call Detective Ed Wallace at 678-4422.

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