East Boston liquor-store owner learns lesson: Never leave your assault rifle in the office where your employees can see it

UPDATE: Board orders one-day suspension.

Charbel Rizkallah acknowledges he made a mistake on Feb. 24: After a day at a Weymouth shooting range with his father, he drove up to his Belle Isle Wine and Spirits on Saratoga Street in East Boston, put his unloaded rifle in his office, set the combination lock on the office door, then went to do some errands.

Rizkallah, who had a license for the weapon, but who does not live in Boston, says he didn't know it's illegal to store such guns in Boston. And he says he definitely didn't know that one of his employees knew the combination to the lock, and never would have thought the guy would unlock the door, get the gun, pose for a photo with it in a store aisle and then post that to Facebook.

Somebody who saw the photo contacted Boston Police, who contacted the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, which began an investigation. Boston Police confiscated Rizkallah's two guns and now he awaits word on whether the Boston Licensing Board will punish him for the incident.

At a hearing before the licensing board yesterday, attended by both his father and the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigator, on loan from BPD, Rizkallah acknowledged "a lapse of judgment on my part" that has left him embarrassed, what with having to drag his father, with whom he owns other stores, into the whole thing.

Although an East Boston Municipal Court clerk found no probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Rizkallah, the board could decide tomorrow to suspend his license for one or more days. Board member Keeanna Saxon praised him for owning up, but added the board takes public safety very seriously. "Your ignorance of the law is not an excuse here," she said.

Rizkallah said he thought he was doing the right thing when he drove from the Weymouth Sportsmen's Club to his store, because he was driving a soft-top Jeep and figured his office would be a safer place to stow the rifle while he ran some errands. He said he had no idea his employee knew the combination of the lock.

Rizkallah said the man still works for him - at the Domino's next door that he owns - but that he is no longer allowed into the liquor store.



Free tagging: 


Not derp

Words have meaning. Accuracy counts.
So, let me get this straight...An employee broke into (accessed illegally through knowing the combination somehow) a locked room, stole a semi automatic rifle, posed on Facebook with it (facepalm) then returned the stolen weapon to its rightful owner's locked room. Glad he doesn't keep a lot of money in the desk drawer, the employee might not return it after posing on Facebook.

Was he charged with possession of a stolen weapon? Why not?

Oh, leaving it in the car would be illegal under state law, so give the guy credit for that. Seems like he tried to do the right thing.

It wasn't stolen.

Because it seems pretty the person returned it, meaning he didn't intend to permanently deprive the person of the property, which is an element of larceny. Now he could be charged with possession of a firearm without a permit if he did not have one. It also seems that the employee had access to that room (had the combo), which means he didn't break in.

And leaving a firearm in a car isn't always illegal, it depends on the court/judge/case law. The law really only says the firearm needs to be secured in a locked container or safety device.


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Doubt it was an assault rifle, but that doesn't make for a good headline.

Nah, would still be a good story

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I called it that because, to be honest, the photos I saw of the thing makes it look like the sort of weapon somebody would use in an assault, as opposed to the sort of thing Davy Crockett or your kid going out with his faithful dog, Boo, would use to shoot squirrels. But regardless of what it is, it's still a good story: It's not every day somebody from the Joint Terrorism Task Force testifies before the Boston Licensing Board.

You called the rifle an

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You called the rifle an assault weapon out of ignorance and a lack of willingness to check your facts. You then attempt to pass this story off as news. If you intend to report the news kindly fact check and report accurate information as a responsible journalist would. If you wish to embellish and make up facts for a better story stick to fiction.


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This guy's "assault rifle" is already neutered by the Mass laws making it nothing more than a semi-automatic rifle that looks tactical. Boston takes it a step further and completely outlaws ownership of any AR, AK, or SKS variants, even though a mechanically identical rifle is fine as long as it looks like old grandpa's huntin' gun.

Glad to see this licensed individual getting jammed up for passing through the wrong zip code. Meanwhile, gang bangers are out there on their second and subsequent possession offenses. Just shows you where the priorities are at when it comes to laws and enforcement. Why prosecute dangerous people when you can tell otherwise law-abiding people they can't have one of those horribly dangerous adjustable stocks. The guy screwed up. But you know who's exempt from the above mentioned ban? Cops. Weird how we haven't heard anything about the one in JP whose gun just "went off."

Did you read the entire post?

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The problem isn't that he had the thing, even though, yes, that was illegal in Boston, but that he left it where an employee could easily get the thing and then use it. Luckily, all he did was pose for a photo with it, but luck is not the basis for a safe society.

What passes for journalism these days...

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I am totally disgusted with the responses to some of the comments by the author of the story. He basically acknowledges that he manufactured facts and embellished the headline with inaccuracies but "doesn't care". And his comments contain more inaccuracies and evident lack of research. Real journalism is dead these days apparently and anyone can print things as news that reflect their biases and agendas instead of simply reporting the facts.

I thought you weren't coming back

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In any case, could you point out which "facts" I manufactured? I went to a hearing and reported on what happened at that hearing. You may not like what happened at that hearing, but that's a different issue. Take it up with the Joint Terrorism Task Force or Boston Police.

If the only "fact" is that I called the thing an "assault rifle," yeah, I plead guilty. I realize gun nuts have very exacting standards for what exactly an assault rifle is. I'm not a gun nut and to me, and to many other people, a gun that looks like the kind of thing that Rambo might be holding as he goes blazing into some cave or something is, yeah, an assault rifle.


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Well, now. Thanks for letting us know what you're compensating for right off the bat!

Ever here someone say a car

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Ever here someone say a car has no balls? Same concept. The firearm has had its cosmetic features controlled by arbitrary law.

cool joke

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But I still stand by the idea that even people who are no fans of guns -- with enough research -- will find something (probably many things) that don't make sense in the MA gun laws. For instance, how is a welded muzzle brake supposed to control gun crime?

Please don't talk about legal

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Please don't talk about legal stuff if you don't know about legal stuff. A) It's not true that rifles are "completely" illegal, and B) you will not find any incident of it being enforced unless it is a secondary charge because it was found while investigating an actual crime.

When good guns turn bad

One of the big arguments in favor of gun control is that even well intentioned, legal owners screw up sometimes. Had that employee decided to just keep the gun the owner might have never known where it went that would be a powerful weapon in the hands of someone who presumably isn't as well intentioned as the owner.

Most illegal guns don't start off that way.

Of course

And what are the chances the security camera recorders are stored in the same locked room the owner assumed the employee didn't have access to?

Most guns used to hurt people are listed as stolen.


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Most guns used to hurt people are listed as stolen.

That's because most guns used in any kind of crime(s), i. e. assaults, hold-ups, etc., are stolen...from private homes and/or businesses.


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Any citations on that? I mean robberies, or assaults during a robbery I could see that being the case, but general assaults? I could imagine that many individuals guilty of domestic violence and/or criminal negligence could be licensed gun owners - but no idea of the stats on that. We know you're more likely to die of a gunshot wound in a house with a licensed gun in it but it might not be a criminal case (accidents, suicides, etc.).

There's always people ready

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To snitch and create drama. It's impossible to have a semi-police state without these anonymous people.

The guy is guilty of a minor offense. And if I was him, I'd fire the Moran who got into the locked room and posted the pic.

There was no machine gun, if

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There was no machine gun, if there were he would be in federal prison (provided he did not have the proper tax stamps. Could you cite a law that calls for extra penalties? Here is a hint, there is none.

Rizkallah, who had a license

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Rizkallah, who had a license for the weapon, says he didn't know it's illegal to store such guns in Boston

He has a license for the weapon, he owns the store he stored the weapon in, and he decided to store the weapon in a secure place (locked office). But our idiotic nanny state says it's illegal for him to do that. And he's facing a license suspension for something that had NOTHING to do with selling liquor.

What a pathetic bunch of clowns the Licensing Board are. Time to do away with these idiots and save the taxpayers some money.

He broke the law

Just because you don't like the law doesn't give you to right to violate it.

Also, he had a responsibility to keep the gun secure and failed to do so. Obviously the office wasn't a secure place since others had access to it without forcing their way in.

Yes, he broke the law

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A law that has NOTHING to do with selling liquor. So the Licensing Board should not be involved in this at all, let alone considering a one day license suspension.

Yeah, it does

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When you get a liquor license, one of the requirements is that you provide a safe environment for customers. Allowing, even if by mistake, a situation in which an employee is wandering around with a high-powered rifle, one might argue, is not ensuring a safe environment. But we'll find out for sure tomorrow.

The High Power of Deception

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High Powered Rifle? AR-15's shoot .223, a rifle round that is meant for VARMINT hunting. That means small animals as in it isn't an appropriate round for a larger animal such as a deer because it is not high powered enough to be considered humane. Hunting rounds are 30 caliber and even some 30 caliber rounds are only intermediate powered cartridges like the 7.62x39 which AK-47's fire. You say "high powered" to mislead but you are clearly lacking in facts.

Know what?

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That is for people killing.

What is it with you idiots and your YOU HAVE TO HAVE HIGH FIREPOWER BLAMBLAMBLAM nonsense?

Here's a tip: LEARN TO AIM. I saw my mom pick off a large elk with a .22. That's called skill. Skill that you clearly don't have.

That is not skill, that is

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That is not skill, that is unethical and I would imagine (or at least hope) a fabrication.

It would be unethical to hunt an Elk with a 223 round as well. 223 is the round fired by the AR 15. It is simply too low powered. In fact it is ILLEGAL to hunt deer in MA with a 223 rifle.

Could you cite the law that

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Could you cite the law that requires trigger locks? The law that differentiates a locked door from a locker/safe?


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 131K, 131L(a); 940 Mass. Code Regs.

It is peculiar to MA: Massachusetts is the only state that generally requires that all firearms be stored with a lock in place.

Section 131L. (a) It shall be unlawful to store or keep any firearm, rifle or shotgun including, but not limited to, large capacity weapons, or machine gun in any place unless such weapon is secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user. For purposes of this section, such weapon shall not be deemed stored or kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user.

I have my own gripes with MA gun laws, but I don't feel annoyed enough to jump the hoops needed to retrieve my parents' weapons from Oregon and bring them here. Not when my cousins are actually using them.

I am aware of that case. That

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I am aware of that case. That lock was one of the poke it with a stick locks. The law is ambiguously vague which ultimately weakens its capacity to be enforced.

A room with a lock on the door

may not be sufficiently secure, per Commonwealth v. Parzick. Of course one of the problems with Parzick is that the room in question in that case had a laughably insecure lock on it--it was one of those "privacy" locks that can be picked by an eight year old with a screwdriver or a paperclip.

On the other hand, if you keep your guns in a safe or lockbox at home, are you absolutely *certain* that no unlicensed people in your home know the combo to the safe, or have access to the keys? Not your roommates, not your unlicensed partner, etc., etc.? What if you keep the key to the locked cabinet on your keychain, which is not in your possession at all times?

That's why you have a trigger lock

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And/or gun safe. With a combination. So you can keep your (unloaded) gun secured, per the training you received to get your MA LTC or FID card. Like I do. And you should.

It is NOT illegal to store

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It is NOT illegal to store firearms Boston has attempted to ban in Boston. The Boston law has no authority over non boston residents and its enforcability is dubious at best.

What is the point of engaging

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What is the point of engaging in a conversation you know nothing about? You failed to even comprehend that there was no machine gun involved and if one were the ATF would likely be involved alongside serious prison time?

There was no law broken by this guy and the board has zero cause to punish him.


His actions (or inaction) allowed someone unauthorized to use his weapon. He failed to keep it secure. It happened in a liquor store which is tightly regulated and when you agree to operate one in MA (particularly in Boston) you do so under the regulation of the state board which can hold you accountable for almost any infraction even if you aren't charged.

This sort of regulation has been upheld by the courts.

Sucks, don't it? But it's the law. There is no constitutional right to own a liquor store. Call you congressman if you don't like it but you can't just ignore regulations you don't think should apply.

He has been convicted of

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He has been convicted of nothing, there is no claim a violation of law occurred, he has not even been accused of violating law. If he violated the safe storage law why have no charges been brought?

It would be perfectly legal or him to carry a slung rifle on his person while working the cash register at the store.

I said I was trolling.

I know what a machine gun is, and a clip, and a magazine.

I also know much of the case law you don't seem to grasp.