NAACP meeting canceled after rifles, ammo stolen

- Police say two rifles were reported stolen in Sarasota yesterday, leading officers to cancel a community meeting as a precaution.

According to SPD, an AK-47 rifle with 1,000 rounds of ammunition was stolen in one burglary, and an AR-7 rifle with 700 rounds was stolen in the second burglary.

No one has been arrested, but Chief Bernadette DiPino said her detectives have a good lead on at least one of the weapons.

The burglaries were enough to force a postponement of yesterday's planned meeting between the NAACP and Sarasota police. There was not a specific threat against the meeting, but DiPino said she was not comfortable holding the gathering "not too far away" from the location of one of the burglaries.

"A thousand rounds; everybody in the church could have been killed or injured," she said, taking full responsibility for canceling the gathering at Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.  

Dozens of people showed up anyway, and went ahead with the discussion about issues in the black community and ways to improve police relations.

The meeting has been rescheduled for July 25.

"We encourage people from the community to come and have a respectful, engaging dialog," DiPino added.

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