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The Fingerprint of a Firearm: Connecting Crimes Through Bullets


TURN IMMEDIATELY WHEN IT WAS HIT BY THAT DUMP TRUCK. IT KILLED A TEACHER AND 40 OTHERS WERE HURT.>>>FINGERPRINT AND FIREARM A NEW WAY TO CAPTURE THE PLAGUE OF GUN VIOLENCE. GEORGE SPENCER GIVES US A LOOK INSIDE THE LAB WHERE THESE CRIMES ARE BEING CONNECTED.>>Reporter: THIS IS THE T-SHIRT ROBERT WAS WEARING THE NIGHT HE WAS SHOT.>>IT’S A 40 CALIBER BULLET THAT ONE THROUGH MY BACK.>>THIS IS THE BULLET HOLE?>>THAT IS THE BULLET HOLE.>>Reporter: IN JUNE 15 HERE ON HIS FATHER’S KENSINGTON PORCH HE INTERRUPTED A ROBBERY AND BULLETS RANGE OUT.>>I HAVE A LOT OF FLASH BACKS.>>Reporter: HE’S NOW PARALYZED FROM THE WAIST DOWN THANKS TO A BULLET FIRED BY THIS MAN. A LIFE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT GONE.>>IT WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM ME. I COULD HAVE BEEN A COP BY NOW.>>Reporter: AS IT TURNS OUT, ACT RANCH DID THE SAME THING TO OTHERS AS WELL. INVESTIGATORS LINKED HIM TO SEVEN DIFFERENT SHOOTINGS WITH FIVE VICTIMS. POLICE WERE ABLE TO MAKE THE CONNECTION BASED ON SHELL CASINGS. THOSE CASINGS CONTAIN THE FINGERPRINT OF A GUN. NOTHING NEW IN A SHOOTING INVESTIGATION, BUT IT WASN’T ALWAYS STANDARD PRACTICE IN PHILADELPHIA, THE COLLECT AND TEST EVERY CASING.>>THEY WOULD HAVE DONE IT OFFICIALLY BLRCHD.>>Reporter: ROBERT IS THE AGENT IN CHARGE OF OFFICIAL ATF AND THE HEAD OF GUN INTELLIGENCE. FOR DECADES PHILLY PD ONLY ANALYZE THE BALLISTIC NEED FOR TRIALS. THE OTHERS SAT IN BACKLOG UNTIL HIS COLLABORATION BEGAN TWO YEARS AGO. THE EXTRA WORK CAN LEAD TO MORE SOLVED CRIMES.>>VERY OFTEN WE IDENTIFY THE SHOOTER THERE THAT’S USING A FIREARM TWO DAYS PRIOR.>>Reporter: THE TEAM WAS GIVEN EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO THE LAB FOCUSED ON MATCHING UP THIS FINGERPRINTS ACROSS TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SHOOTINGS. THE TEAM INPUT EVERY SHELL CASING, EVERY GUN FIRE TEAM, 65,000 PIECE OF EVIDENCE EACH YEAR. THEN AN ATF COORDINATOR REVIEWS THE FIREARM FINGER PRINT MATCHES, OFTEN FINDING THAT SHOOTING SWITCH INVESTIGATORS DIDN’T KNOW WERE RELATED WERE ACTUALLY COMMITTED WITH THE VERY SAME GUN.>>SUDDENLY WE HAVE THEM CONNECTED.>>Reporter: THEN 72 HOURS THOSE UNEXPECTED LEADS ARE HANDED OFF TO DETECTIVES.>>IT’S FAST THAT WE’RE GETTING FROM EVERY BALLISTIC EVIDENCE THAT WE’RE COVERING.>>Reporter: OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, DENNIS WILSON SAYS ITS BALLISTIC EVIDENCE BACKLOG HAS BEEN CLEAR. EACH OLD CASING NOW A PART OF THE DATABASE OF FIREARM FINGER PRINT FOR COMPARISON.>>ALLOWS US TO TAKE ALL OF OUR EFFORTS AND IDENTIFY AND INVESTIGATE THE TRIGGER PULLERS.>>IT’S A REMINDER FOR ME.>>Reporter: THE PROGRAM IS ALREADY A SUCCESS, CATCHING HIS SHOOTER THAT THE CASING IN THE PAST MIGHT HAVE NEVER BEEN COLLECTED OR COMPARED. HE’S SERVING AT LEAST 178 YEARS IN PRISON, A LONG SENTENCE BASED ON THE MULTIPLE CRIME THAT DETECTIVES CONNECTED HIM TO.>>THANK GOD THEY CAUGHT HIM. THANK GOD. IF NOT HE WOULD HAVE CONTINUED TO DO IT.>>Reporter: FOR THE

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