EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- An 18-year-old has been charged after the NYPD found ghost guns in their bust of an East Harlem day care.
Karon Coley was indicted on multiple charges including criminal possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, and manufacturing a gun, officials said. Two other minors were also arrested.
Coley's mother is the owner of the licensed day care on East 117th Street. Authorities say she has not been arrested.
Officials say the investigation started with a group of individuals, including some minors, who were purchasing ghost guns from online retailers, as well as materials required to print 3D firearm components. The suspects are believed to have been using guides to make ghost guns from the internet.
Behind an unlocked door of the day care facility, law enforcement found a 3D printer, 3D printing tools, plastic filament, two completely printed firearms, one printed assault pistol in the final stages of assembly and one additional 3D printed lower receiver. There were also allegedly fraudulently obtained credit cards.
Two of the guns were loaded with live ammunition, officials said.
"Today is a call to action. We are talking to the parents. Please check on what your kids are up to. Monitor their internet activities. We are also speaking to those who think printing 3D guns is the way of the future. You are wrong," said NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban.
The day care was operated out of an apartment that belongs to Coley's mother.
"When made well, ghost guns and 3-D printed firearms operate just like commercial firearms. In the hands of teenagers, they can inflict just as much violence," said Rebecca Weiner, the NYPD's deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
Coley was arraigned on Wednesday night. His bail was set at $350,000 cash, $500,000 bond.
"You've got an 18-year-old in his room, 3D printer. He's not making little robotic toys. He's making guns," said Adams.
The day care was licensed to operate in February of 2021 and was last inspected this February. During that inspection, it was cited for three violations and minor changes were made.
"This is a heartbreaking scenario of thinking that you are dropping your child off to a place of safe haven, just to find out it was a dangerous environment where someone was making a gun inside," Adams said.
The news of the bust comes nearly two weeks after four young children attending a day care in the Bronx were treated for opioid poisoning. One of the victims, 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici, is believed to have died from the exposure.
In that case, police found drugs beneath a trap door and a kilogram of fentanyl that was stored near mats that children used for sleeping, along with multiple devices used by traffickers for mixing drugs and pressing it into bricks.
Officials say they will be taking a closer look into the city's day care inspection process.
"We just want to really make the case to parents who are dropping children off every day to these centers, that we are going to remain vigilant, we are going to continually modify the rules like they have been modified over the years to stay ahead of bad people doing bad things in environments where our children are," Adams said.
Authorities say the popularity of privately made guns is concerning. So far this year, some 290 have been recovered and now more than ever, they are 3D-printed.