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Police Seize Weapons Cache Bigger Than Their Own

July 30, 1990

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ Henry A. Stram’s neighbors know him as a friendly, easygoing man with a passion for gun collecting.

But they were shocked at the extent of the arsenal found at his three-story duplex in a quiet neighborhood near Cambridge’s Central Square.

A weekend raid at Stram’s home yielded a huge weapons cache that packed more firepower than the city’s entire police force, authorities said.

Nearly 200 handguns, 300 rifles, an anti-tank gun, and at least one machine gun were confiscated Saturday night by police and officials of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The weapons were seized from Stram’s home after police responded to a report of a break-in - which later proved erroneous - and noticed firearms and fireworks, said Cambridge police Lt. Richard Bongiorno.

Police obtained a warrant and for several hours Saturday night carried out a supply of weapons, which included antique guns, mortar shells and gunpowder. Also seized were components to make machine guns, Bongiorno said.

More weapons were seized Sunday.

Police were seeking Stram for possible weapons possession charges. Stram, 50, was not home at the time of the raid and was believed to have been away for the weekend, Bongiorno said.

The weapons were estimated to be worth about $150,000, Bongiorno said.

″We don’t have an arsenal as large as what we seized there,″ Bongiorno said. ″It’s very unusual to have one person with an arsenal of this size.″

Stram had no criminal record and had obtained and consistently reapplied for firearms licenses, Bongiorno said. But even weapons that appeared to be legal were seized because police said the extent of the arsenal was a threat to public safety.

″That amount of guns, it’s unheard of,″ said police Lt. Donald Carney. ″Especially in a house in the middle of the city. If anyone broke in and took the guns ... it would wreak havoc on the streets.″

Authorities intended to file complaints today in Middlesex Third District Court, including felony counts for possessing a machine gun and misdemeanor charges for having illegal fireworks, Carney said.

Neighbors described Stram as a helpful and pleasant man, who spoke openly of collecting guns and being a member of the National Guard.

″He’s actually a very gentle man, very talkative and helpful,″ said David Breen, who lived in the other half of the duplex on Chalk Street. ″He never hid the fact he was into collecting firearms. He often talked about it.″

But Breen and other neighbors said they were shocked at the apparent extent of Stram’s arsenal.

″He was friendly. He has always been really calm around here,″ said Jamie Waller, 29, who has lived next to Stram for 23 years. ″But if I had known he had so much in there I wouldn’t have gone to sleep so easily at night.″

Bongiorno said police got a warrant to search Stram’s home after responding to a report of a break-in Friday night. That report turned out to be wrong, but officers spoke to a house sitter and observed fireworks and weapons in the home.

On Saturday, police once again responded to the home, this time for a report of a man with a gun, Bongiorno said. Officers observed an illegal mortar at the residence, prompting detectives to apply for the warrant.

Breen said a family friend had driven by the house and become suspicious of a man entering the building and called police. However, Breen said the man had been asked to take care of Stram’s dogs.

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