Family: Man accused of illegally making guns was trying to get permit

Posted: Updated:

The family of a Sussex County man accused of illegally manufacturing firearms says that he was working to get his permit and did not know what he was doing was illegal.

Russell Watt, 38, is facing several charges after Franklin Borough police found about a dozen guns that Watt allegedly made while working at MJS Precision on Cork Hill Road in the borough. Police say that the guns were semi- and fully automatic. Watt also allegedly had high-capacity magazines for the guns.

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But Watt’s friends and family say that he is not a criminal and that making guns was just a hobby.

"You're trying to paint him to be something he's not. It's just crazy,” says Watt’s girlfriend Jackie Van Horn.

Van Horn says that her and Watt’s son keeps asking to see his father, but Watt is being kept at the Sussex County Jail.

"He's not mental, he's not sick. He was going to get his permit. So, what does that tell you?” asks Van Horn.

Van Horn says that Watt went to the Franklin Borough Police Department to apply for his firearm permit and told police that he had the weapons. It was then that police issued the search warrants for Watt’s home and place of employment.

“He was being honest about it…he was naive and got himself in trouble,” says Watt’s friend and landlord Michael Fedder.

Watt is expected to have a detention hearing on Monday.

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