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Man Charged After Stealing Rifle From Police Car

JEANNETTE (KDKA) - A man from Jeannette is accused of trying to steal an assault rifle from a police car.

It started when Jeannette Police officer Cpl. Christopher Mason was tending to reports inside the station.

"As he was in doing paper work, he looked up and saw a gentleman reaching in or leaning into the passenger side of our one police car, car 1-3. At first he thought it was his partner," said Cpl. Jeffrey Stahl, of Jeannette Police.

But police say it turned out to be 31-year-old Jimmie Joe Berggren Jr.

Cpl. Mason didn't like what he saw and ran out to confront Berggren while he was walking away.

"At that point, Officer Mason told him to stop; he refused to stop," said Cpl. Stahl. "Officer Mason observed what appeared to be the barrel of one of our AR-15s."

And it was - an AR-15 assault rifle with a full magazine.

"After three commands of him to drop the weapon, he ended up dropping the weapon," said Cpl. Stahl. "Thank God that Officer Mason didn't have to take this gentleman's life.

Berggren was charged with theft of a firearm and other counts.

But why did he take it?

"The defendant in this case stated he was going to try to sell it," said Cpl. Stahl. "We believe that whenever he reached into the car, he grabbed the top of the firearm or the rifle and he just with force was able to pull that lock open."

He is currently being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $45,000 bail.

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