The strange place a missing Tuskegee Airman bust was found

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> A visitors cease for a minor violation Friday morning kicked off a collection of occasions fixing a 14-yr-previous whodunit case surrounding a lacking piece of historical past.

Shortly after eight:30 a.m., San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Lopez pulled over Brian Sawyer, 24 of Fontana, for an alleged minor visitors violation, in response to a sheriff’s information launch.

Sawyer, who’s on felony probation and is topic to look, was reportedly driving with no legitimate driver’s license, so Lopez opted to look the automotive. That’s when officers say the deputy discovered medicine in addition to a loaded handgun.

Consequently, deputies carried out a probation search on Sawyer’s Fontana house. In the course of the search, one other firearm was discovered in addition to drug paraphernalia and yet one more merchandise: a bronze bust of an Air Pressure colonel who served as a Tuskegee Airman.

“The bust was labeled with the identify Col. Ralph Smith and the phrases ‘Tuskegee Airman’ engraved in it,” the information launch states.

Lopez investigated additional, discovering Col. Ralph Smith lives in Moreno Valley and was an a member of the Well-known Tuskegee Airman unit.

The bust was sculpted by world renown sculptor Don Winton and was given to Col. Smith in 2003, in accordance with the dispatch.

“Don Winton was contacted by the Smithsonian Museums and requested to have the bust displayed; nevertheless, the bust went lacking 14 years in the past,” officers wrote. “Col. Smith advised Lopez he believed he would by no means see the sculpture once more.”

Till Sunday.

Lopez and all the Victoria Gardens Retail Theft Staff met with Col. Smith, returning the priceless bust.

“The emotional reunification with Col. Smith and his piece of American historical past was value each second I spent on this investigation,” Lopez stated within the assertion.

Sawyer was arrested and booked into the West Valley Detention Middle on suspicion of possession of a managed substance whereas armed, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of stolen property. His bail was set at $50,000 which he posted Sunday.

Anybody with info relating to this incident, or some other alleged crime Sawyer could also be concerned in, is requested to name the Rancho Cucamonga Police Division at 909-477-2800.

Callers wishing to stay nameless might contact the WeTip Hotline at 1-800-78CRIME (27463), or you might depart info on the We-Tip web site at


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