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Katko addresses 14-year-old gun theft that resulted in double homicide

Ellen Abbott
John Katko, republican candidate for New York's 24th Congressional district seat, at the New York State Fair on Thursday

Republican congressional candidate John Katko says he has no regrets about legally obtaining a gun to use for protection while he was a federal prosecutor in Syracuse.

He accuses political opponents of rehashing a 14-year-old story about  the theft of that gun, and its use in a robbery that ended with the shooting death of two men in Syracuse.

“Despite all the threats I’ve been through over 20 years, I still stuck with it, and went after the worst criminals, the most violence criminals in El Paso, in Puerto Rico and here in Syracuse," Katko said.

"I went through political corruption cases, gang cases, and even though there was a threat and a danger to me, I never stopped doing what was right. And I think that’s an important thing for people to know as well.”

Katko says he legally obtained the gun, on the advice of the FBI and federal marshals, after receiving threats against himself and his family. He says it had been stolen from a locked briefcase concealed from view in a locked vehicle, and was not the one that fired the fatal shots.

"I have been threatened on a regular basis," Katko explained. "It’s part of the job as a prosecutor. It was tough for my wife and our kids, but we balanced out doing the right thing for our country and doing the right thing with prosecutions, and also enduring the threats."

A justice department investigation cleared Katko of any wrongdoing in connection with the gun's theft.

“After the incident, it was a terrible incident, there was a thorough investigation," Katko said. "And the Department of Justice found their was no wrongdoing whatsoever.”

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
Rep. Dan Maffei, D- Syracuse, visits the New York State Fair on Thursday

His opponent, incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei, says he doesn’t know if this will be an issue.

“It’s a concerning incident that happened years and years ago," Maffei said. "I remember seeing it in the paper. It was a big deal, a double homicide then. So I think anything like that should bring up some questions that should be answered.”

Maffei also says the incident could resurface as part of the issue of gun control.

“I’ve supported a lot of reasonable control things that respect the Second Amendment," Maffei explained. "For instance, background checks, and my opponent is not. I’m not sure this is relevant to that, it may bring it up more as an issue.”

But Maffei adds that it shouldn’t overshadow the main focal points of this fall's election.

“I’m running my campaign, and that’s based on helping to create middle class jobs, and making sure central New York is the best place to raise a family," Maffei said. "And that’s not going to distract me from that.”

Both candidates say they don’t want the story, that first appeared in The Post-Standard yesterday, to take away from the important issues of the campaign.