Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:57PM - 266 Views

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PDT Staff Writer

The Montgomery County Sheriff says a raid on an illegal gun-selling operation ties in with the death of a former Portsmouth man. The family of Tommy Ray Nickles has been informed that of 35 guns confiscated in a search warrant at the home of 50-year-old Dwight Stargell, three were used in the murder of Tommy Nickles, 54, on April 3 of this year.

According to a story on WDTN TV 2 in Dayton, The Range Task Force said they recovered 35 guns, nine of which were stolen, and three used in Nickles murder. Agents said they have been buying guns from Dwight Stargell since December of 2011. Anthony Stargell, 20, related to Dwight Stargell, faces the death penalty in the death of Nickles, whose body was found in his burned-out garage. They say they also found cocaine and marijuana when they served a search warrant at Stargell’s home on April 19, but that Dwight Stargell, Sr. had continued to sell guns and drugs even after that search warrant was executed.

“These guns are going to criminals on the streets, it makes the citizens of Dayton uneasy and doesn’t make them a real safe place for them to live,” ATF agent Scott Chard, said on a TV 2 news story. Stargell is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and dealing firearms without a license, among other things. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

The body of Tommy Ray Nickles, brother of former Portsmouth City Wastewater Director Randy Nickles, was found when firefighters were called to extinguish a blaze in his garage at his business, Quality One Electric, on South Main Street in Dayton, in the early morning of April 3. Police said Nickles and his golden retriever, Rusty, were both shot before the building was set on fire.

Within days Dayton Police arrested Anthony Stargell for murder.

A surveillance camera in the vicinity of the garage might have captured the murder and fire, but police say the suspect apparently took the security system. Nickles’ work van was also stolen, but later recovered.
Police have not explained the use of three guns in Nickles’ death.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com

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