SC Gun Hoarder Arrested For Having 10,000 Stolen Guns

A sample of the guns found in Nicholson's house (image courtesy Chesterfield County Sheriff's Department via The Charlotte Observer)
A sample of the guns found in Nicholson’s house (image courtesy Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Department via The Charlotte Observer)

The town of Pageland, South Carolina is known as one of the many small towns that Charlotte-area residents usually pass through on the way to Myrtle Beach. It’s also known for its yearly watermelon festival. This weekend, though, it became known for being home to a gun hoarder. A Pageland man is facing charges that he hoarded at least 10,000 stolen guns in various locations around town.

Earlier in the week, Chesterfield County deputies pulled over Brent Nicholson for a traffic violation. However, their spidey-senses went off with the discovery of 60 guns in his car. On Friday afternoon, deputies came to Nicholson’s house near Pageland to serve him with a subpoena and discovered a chainsaw and a welder in the front yard that had been reported stolen earlier in the week. Chesterfield County sheriff Jay Brooks told WSOC-TV in Charlotte that Nicholson has been on the radar screen for some time in connection with stolen property, but it has only been recently that his department was able to get enough information to justify a search warrant.

That night, local deputies, as well as agents from the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, raided the house and a nearby warehouse. They found what Brooks described as a scene from a scene from a hoarder show, including chainsaws, four-wheelers, crossbows, hunting mounts, air compressors, and taxidermied animal heads.

However, the most unnerving discovery was that Nicholson was hoarding a virtual arsenal. They found thousands of hunting rifles and shotguns, as well as boxes of ammunition. They found more guns in the liquor store that Nicholson owned with his father, as well as in his father’s house.

Nicholson was arrested on Saturday morning across the border in Union County, North Carolina. He was taken back to Pageland and booked on charges of possession of stolen property. However, Brooks has all but announced that more charges are in the offing. He also said that Nicholson’s wife and father could be on the way to jail as well.

According to Brooks, the figure of 10,000 guns in Nicholson’s house and warehouse alone is just a rough estimate. He did say, however, that there were so many that “we just quit counting after awhile.” The raid team needed four 40-foot tractor-trailers to haul the guns away. Brooks thinks that based on what has been gleaned so far, Nicholson just “looks like a gun hoarder.” There’s no evidence as of yet that he tried to sell any of the guns. Apparently Nicholson stole some of the guns himself, and bought the rest from thieves who had stolen them from North Carolina cabins and hunting lodges for roughly $100 per gun.

On Monday, investigators from Chesterfield County, as well as Mecklenburg, Union, and Anson counties in North Carolina, arrived to help sift through the stolen weapons. Brooks says that the team will work to get the guns and the rest of the stolen property back to their rightful owners.

One of Nicholson’s neighbors, Rusty Fender, was unnerved just by the fact that he had a gun hoarder as a neighbor. Fender told WBTV in Charlotte that he always knew Nicholson as “a good cat,” but wants to know how anyone could have that many guns on hand. Fender probably spoke for a lot of people in this mostly rural county–including my girlfriend, who lives in nearby Chesterfield. To give you an idea how rural it is, my girlfriend once told me that the opening of a Taco Bell there was a really big deal.

Brooks and other officers are equally dumbfounded. Brooks said that in nearly 30 years in law enforcement, the biggest illegal gun bust he handled before this weekend involved 50 guns–“and that was considered an arsenal.” He added that sheriffs from four neighboring counties with 25 years or more of experience, as well as the SLED agents, had “never seen anything like this” in their careers.

If I were any of the thieves with whom Nicholson dealt, I’d be very afraid. Nicholson potentially faces federal charges that carry a minimum of four years in prison, and the state charges carry up to three years per count. He also faces drug trafficking charges in Union County. Nicholson’s probably going to start dropping dimes on his accomplices very soon if he hasn’t done so already. Even that may not be enough to keep him out of jail for a long time.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.