Converse shooting suspects latest in ballistics database-related arrests

ATF: 65 arrests made since San Antonio NIBIN Task Force set up in 2017

SAN ANTONIO – Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the arrests of two men in connection with a shooting in Converse are just the latest cases tied to its national database for ballistics.

Carlos Romero Jr. and Dimitri Lavalais each face a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after the ATF's National Integrated Ballistic Information Network program helped link shell casings found at the scene to a casing in Romero's vehicle and a gun police said Lavalais had in his possession. 

NIBIN also found links to five other shootings in the area between the two types of casings, according to arrest documents.

Romero was arrested Thursday morning, while Converse police said Lavalais was served his warrant in the Bexar County Jail, where he was being held on an unrelated charge. However, jail records do yet show an additional charge for him.

The pair's arrests will add to the statistics that have been compiling since a NIBIN Task Force was set up in San Antonio in August 2017. Since then, ATF spokeswoman Special Agent Nicole Strong said the area has seen 504 leads generated through NIBIN that resulted in 65 arrests and 103 solved shooting cases.

NIBIN automates ballistics examinations and helps link spent shell casings from different crime scenes to the gun from which they were fired. The links, or "leads," as they are known, are not confirmed until they've been examined at the ATF's National Correlation and Training Center in Alabama.

The NIBIN program has been around since 1999, but Strong said it has been retooled in recent years to be more proactive.

In the San Antonio area, the San Antonio Police Department is able to enter casings into NIBIN itself, while other area agencies can have the ATF do it.

According to arrest paperwork for Romero, the 9 mm and .40-caliber casings found at the Converse shooting scene were also linked to two handguns that had been used in five other area shootings between them.

That would not automatically mean those cases are closed, though.

The information from NIBIN can match the same gun used in different shootings, but it doesn't necessarily mean the same person shot it.

Nonetheless, the ATF said NIBIN is a useful tool, and its goal is to have all shootings entered into the program.

About the Author

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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