April 10, 2018 By Tara Law
A pair of volunteers made a shocking discovery while picking up trash along the Astoria Park shoreline Saturday morning— a gun in a plastic bag.
Laura Picallo and Laura Aguinaga found the weapon while gathering trash with about 30 volunteers from the Astoria Park Alliance, a local conservation nonprofit, during one of the organization’s monthly shoreline cleanups.
Aguinaga said the pair decided to clean up a neglected area separate from the Alliance’s typical cleanup route.
Around 11:30 a.m., Picallo picked up a black plastic bag with a stick claw. The bag was strangely heavy, so she peeked inside and discovered the gun, Aguinaga said.
“She calls me over and she’s like, ‘you’re not going to believe what I found,” Aguinaga said.
The women waved down a passing police car and handed the gun over to the cops.
Volunteers typically find a lot of weird junk during cleanups, according to Anthony Liberatoscioli, the Alliance’s vice chair and the supervisor of the cleanup that day. On Saturday, volunteers also picked up a shopping cart and a bowling ball. However, a volunteer has never found a gun.
“Unabashedly, I can say this has never happened before,” said Martha Lopez-Gilpin, president of the Astoria Parks Alliance. “We have protocols for finding needles, but we’ve never had a protocol for finding firearms.”
The Astoria Park Alliance hosts shoreline cleanups once a month, and park cleanups twice monthly. The group’s next shoreline cleanup is on May 12.