Prosecutors reject firearm case against Laguna Beach man probed by FBI

Federal agents and Laguna Beach police officers served a search warrant on March 11 in the 1100 block of Catalina Street. Courtesy photo

A Laguna Beach man won’t be charged for unlawful possession of a firearm found during an FBI search of his home last month, prosecutors said Wednesday.

“This case was rejected for insufficient evidence,” Kimberly Edds, a spokesperson for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, wrote in an email.

Federal agents executed a search warrant on March 11 at a Laguna Beach home in the 1100 block of Catalina Street, authorities said.

The warrant was sealed and additional details were unavailable, said Rukelt Dalberis, a spokesperson for the FBI Los Angeles office. Federal authorities declined to comment on whether the Laguna Beach search was connected to the nationwide investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Laguna Beach police officers assisted the FBI in their active investigation at the Catalina Street residence. Garrett Andrew Gauvain, 49, was arrested by Laguna Beach officers on suspicion of possessing a firearm in violation of a state law that prohibits people with certain misdemeanor convictions from owning firearms.

In a phone interview last month, Gauvain said he was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 but never went up the building’s steps or inside. When contacted by a reporter Wednesday, Gauvain said he was pleased to hear he won’t be prosecuted for a firearm violation.

“I’m happy that the DA has decided not to pursue the gun possession case,” he said. “That’s one saga out of the way but who knows what the future holds.”

Gauvain described the FBI search, arrest by Laguna Beach police, and the subsequent public interest as surreal.

“I come from a very heavily Democrat family. I was raised Democrat,” Gauvain said. “I have a lot of friends that are all along the political spectrum. We just need to get back to talking with each other as people and push away from the keyboards and rancor. I’m just profoundly sad about where we’ve allowed our community and country to go.”

Like many supporters of former president Donald Trump who showed up at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Gauvain said he traveled across the country to exercise his First Amendment rights. He saw militia members wearing their tactical gear, radios, and zip ties but doesn’t support their strategy to breach the building.

“I don’t agree with how they do things,” Gauvain.

In March, Gauavain told the Independent he was involved in a 2017 domestic disturbance that concluded with Laguna Beach police taking possession of his revolver, he said. But in an interview Wednesday, Gauvain clarified that police saw the revolver during this incident but didn’t take it into their custody.

“They knew the gun was in the house and they never took it,” he said.

Instead, Laguna Beach police seized his two rifles and later returned them, Gauvain said. He transferred these long guns to another person years ago.

Gauvain’s recollection of these events largely aligns with Laguna Beach police documents obtained by the Independent.

A Laguna Beach police corporal took custody of Gauvain’s unregistered AR-15 to determine the weapon’s registration and ownership in 2017, according to a March 11 email by Capt. Rachel Johnson to Police Chief Robert Thompson. The underlying report states Gauvain also possessed a .357 revolver, which was left with him under instructions to properly register it, Johnson wrote.

Laguna Beach police traced the AR-15 to a firearms dealer that went out of business. The corporal returned the rifle to Gauvain about three weeks after taking it into custody.

Police command staff couldn’t find additional details about the circumstances of the AR-15’s return to Gauvain, Johnson wrote, including whether police examined his February 2016 plea deal for misdemeanor battery, which precluded him from possessing firearms.

“[On March 11], Mr. Gauvain was arrested for possession of a 357 revolver, this weapon had not been previously seized and returned to Gauvain,” Johnson wrote.

Gauvain has not heard from federal agents since their search of his home.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated following the fulfillment of a public records request.

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