EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Ghost guns and 3D printers were discovered at an operational East Harlem day care on Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD officials announced Wednesday afternoon.
The licensed day care was operating at an apartment on East 117th Street. Detectives executed search warrants and said they discovered a ghost gun printing operation.
Police said 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. Police believe they were finding guides to making the ghost guns online.
The warrants resulted in the arrest of three individuals, including two minors, and the recovery of multiple 3D-printed firearms. Two of the guns were loaded with live ammunition.
"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.
Karon Coley, 18, was charged with manufacturing ghost guns with a 3D printer out of his mother's East Harlem apartment, where she operated the day care.
Inside the day care facility, investigators said they found a 3D printer, 3D printing tools, plastic filament, two completed 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.
"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 charged with criminal possession of a weapon loaded firearm, manufacture of machine gun, manufacture of rapid-fire modified device, manufacture of a dangerous instrument, criminal possession of a weapon three or more firearms, criminal possession of a weapon assault rifle, criminal possession of a weapon ammo clip and acting in a manor injurious to a child under 17.
He 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.
It is unclear if Coley's mother is facing charges.
"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 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.
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.
Adams said it did not give him any joy to talk about another case where children were in a dangerous environment.
"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.