JAMAICA BAY, Queens (WABC) -- A startling discovery led the NYPD into the Jamaica Bay, where they retrieved more than a dozen firearms.
The discovery was made after a fisherman found three assault rifles inside a plastic bag near Beach 38th Street and Norton Drive at around 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
"At the distance, I saw a big metal box, when I go close to it to see what was in there. When I get there, I saw a few black garbage bags and then I got close and close and then when I see, it was guns," said the local fisherman to Eyewitness News.
The fisherman had been checking out the water for the approaching fishing season, when he was disturbed by what he found.
Equipped with scuba gear, NYPD divers headed into the water and recovered a total of 14 handguns.
Police now believe there is a connection between the three AR15-style rifles and the collection of handguns, according to police sources.
Describing the condition in which the weapons were found, former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said they appeared to be collectors items.
"I think just by the condition they're in and where we found them with all their holsters, it is a serious collector of handguns," said Boyce. "When we run the serial numbers, we'll probably get something out of it."
The serial numbers on the rifles traced to a home in Putnam County where the rifles had been stolen in a burglary. Detectives learned 14 handguns were also taken in the same burglary.
According to Boyce, those handguns, combined with the three AR-15 style weapons located nearby, make this a highly unusual find.
"We take guns out of the water all the time. But this large a recovery is quite unusual," he said. "I don't remember seeing anything like this in my time."
No arrests have been made, and an investigation is ongoing.
"If we found out who it is, we can do a lot of work and ask them, why did they get rid of these guns," Boyce added.
As for the local fisherman, he expressed having no regrets about reporting the news.
"I feel proud because I feel I did the right thing," he said.
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News