The Wahpeton Police Department is confirming information about a handgun found in the Red River.
The gun, a .357 magnum revolver, was found in the river Saturday, Aug. 11. It was able to be seen because water levels were low, Wahpeton Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson said.
Video taken at the scene and posted online shows the gun was rusted. It was in real rough shape and had likely been in the river for an undetermined amount of time, Thorsteinson said. It is unknown how and why the gun ended up in the river.
“It looked like a big ball, like more of a gun-shaped thing,” Thorsteinson said.
The gun was placed more than once in an ultrasonic cleaner for 20 minutes at a time, Thorsteinson said. Law enforcement was able to identify its serial number, which was checked with databases from organizations including the National Crime Information Center and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
As of Tuesday, July 14, the gun is considered a piece of found property that is being held at the Wahpeton Police Department.
“There might be other agencies that are interested in this,” Thorsteinson said.
Thorsteinson confirmed that once the gun was discovered, it was turned into the Wahpeton police. His department has notified both the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Current information does not indicate the gun was used in any criminal activity. Following its discovery, there was speculation that the gun was associated with the late Andrew Sadek.
Prior to his May 2014 disappearance in Wahpeton, Sadek was a first-year student at North Dakota State College of Science’s Wahpeton campus.
In July 2014, Sadek was found dead in the Red River. Evidence has not indicated whether he died as a result of suicide, homicide or accident.
Tammy Sadek, Andrew Sadek’s mother, previously said a .22-caliber bullet was found lodged in his head. The discovered gun was of a larger caliber than one missing from the Sadek home and believed to have been used in Andrew Sadek’s death, Forum News Service reported.
The discovered gun was identified at approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday, FNS continued. It was located and obtained by a woman fishing in Chahinkapa Park, Wahpeton.
In 1996, Thorsteinson said, a revolver was used in another shooting death. The gun was a stainless steel model and ended up in a duck pond, two facts which indicated it wasn’t the recently discovered item.
The discovered gun, Thorsteinson reiterated, was dirty and rust-covered. He is skeptical that it can ever be opened. It was cleaned enough to obtain the serial number.
“Something that’s been in the water that long, I can’t imagine we’d be able to get prints or DNA. We also won’t run DNA testing on it because we’d have to associate it with a crime. At this point, it’s found property,” Thorsteinson said.
Handguns are one of several items which have been recovered from the Red River over the years. They include bikes, stolen property, safes and a sword.
“The United States is littered with these kinds of things,” Thorsteinson said.