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April 22nd, 2024 4:11 pm

On April 21, 2024, at approximately 3:09pm, a Naples Police Sergeant was working a contract duty detail assigned to the Coastland Center Mall when he was contacted by mall security to respond to the area in front of Old Navy. Upon arrival, the Sergeant met with security & a witness who stated he observed a white male with blonde hair, black shirt & wearing blue/black backpack with what appeared to have an impression of a rifle inside the backpack. The witness advised he heard another male point to the ‘No Guns Allowed’ sign on the entrance door & say, “no rifles allowed bro.” Believing the male had a firearm, NPD was contacted.

The suspect was located shortly thereafter exiting a mall store & was identified as Joseph Sweeney (14 YOA) during a consensual encounter. Upon initial contact, the Sergeant could readily see a long object inside Sweeney’s backpack, making an imprint consistent with the witness account. Sweeney denied the request to search his backpack because he said he had “weed” in it. Upon arrival of back-up officers, the Sergeant attempted to detain Sweeney to conduct a probable cause search of his backpack, but Sweeney pulled away & attempted to flee from officers. A takedown was utilized to control Sweeney & he was placed in custody without further incident. A search of Sweeney’s backpack revealed a Palmetto State Armory AR style rifle with a fully loaded magazine & less than 20 grams of marijuana.

Naples Police Chief Ciro Dominguez is proud of the community partnerships that our Police Department has with the public and private entities who all worked together during this event to ensure our community remains safe.

During further investigation, NPD Detectives learned from Sweeney that he did not have any intention to utilize the rifle while at the Coastland Center Mall & only had it with him to walk around. Sweeney stated he was not at the mall to conduct a shooting, nor was he there due to any conflict with anyone. Sweeney would not provide any information to detectives as to when & where he became in possession of the rifle.

Sweeney was arrested & charged with the following offenses: Unlawful Carry of a Concealed Firearm (Felony), Possession of Marijuana < 20>