On May 4, 1995, Daniel Blan was arrested for altering a firearm ID number by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. The arrest report stated Blan had sold a Bryco Arms .380 caliber pistol with the serial number removed to a cooperating individual in Clanton on July 27, 1994, the day Mike was murdered.
ME: Speaking of your arrest, tell me about the gun arrest. Did you sell a gun to somebody?
BLAN: No ma’am. When I got arrested, actually I never really got arrested, they’re always talking like I’ve been, but I never got arrested. They never really arrested me except for when they come up and arrested me for, I was in a fog, and when I was living in Birmingham … see that’s where I’m getting … See they arrested me, Danny Hester and somebody else arrested me for altering a firearm and I want to say that was in ’94.
When they arrested me it was 11:00 at night. I just got finished smoking a bowl of weed and was gonna give Todd one, and some dude came in and said, “Hey, I need to talk to you.” I was like “Alright, hang on one second”. He said, “No, if you don’t mind, I’d like for you to step outside.” I said, “Alright. Hey Todd, hang on let me see what he wants.” They said, “Hey, you’re under arrest for the…”. I forgot what they actually said. So I was like, “Alright, cool”, I said, “Hang on, I got some weed in my pocket. Here you go”.
I actually showed them how to get from, because they was lost, I actually showed them how to get from where they was at to Chilton County. And then when they all started arresting me for altering that firearm, in Chilton County. They supposedly said I traded it for drugs and stuff like that. I told them, I said, “Look, I don’t need to come from Birmingham to down here for drugs. First of all, my brother, my sister are drug addicts. Never at home, like yeah, I can get any kind of drug I want from them. You name it, I can get it from them. I don’t have to travel nowhere to get anything. I’ve seen what the drugs they’ve done to them, I’ve seen what it does to them and I don’t want no part of it. The only thing I do is smoke marijuana.” So they said, “Well, we got you charge, somebody said you turned this gun into some drugs”. I was like, “No, no, I never done that”.
ME: So you didn’t know this guy?
BLAN: Know who?
ME: The guy that you supposedly sold the gun to?
BLAN: Any of them people they talked about, no. I’ve never lived in Chilton County, I was never from Chilton County I was never there. Not one time did I ever live in that house before I could get it built for them. I knew where it was, I helped build this, I helped clear the land, but as far as living there, no. When they called it Chilton County, I lived in Montgomery, Alabama, I went to school in Montgomery, I went to one or two of their basketball games. The reason I quit going there is because he got upset with me because I would sit in the stands and this chic that was in school had a thing for me and she used to sit between my legs and give me a heart attack, and that was inappropriate. That’s what kids do these days, he didn’t like that, so I went to one or two basketball games.
ME: Well I guess I’m trying to look through the letter here to see, you had mentioned somebody … William Price is who you mentioned in the letter.
BLAN: They said they totally got the gun from him or something like that. I really don’t know how that went about, but they’re saying, okay, here’s what they’re saying. I’m going to use me, you, Josh, Christine, and Mike, I’m gonna use us five, okay? Let’s say I came to you with this gun, you have, or you knew somebody that had supposedly the drugs I wanted, so I gave you the gun, you went to this person, you went to Josh with the gun to get the weed or the marijuana that I wanted. Josh didn’t have it at the time, so Josh told you to hang on and let him see the gun, he’s going to carry it to Christine, because he knew Christine would have it. So he carried the gun to Christine, Christine didn’t have it. She knew that Mike had it, so she got the gun from Josh, and took it to Mike. Mike’s like, “Yeah, I want the gun, here’s what you were wanting”. So she got it, gave it to Josh, Josh gave it back to you, and you gave me, supposedly, the weed I wanted. So, they’re saying that gun went through five different people.
When Blan was arrested, it was because of information that had been obtained from William Price. I don’t know this for sure, but I believe Price might have been a confidential informant because of many statements he gave to police over the course of several months, all of which were concerning the murder of Michael Bernos.
In a statement he gave in April of 1995, Price told ABI agent Danny Hester that he had purchased a .380 caliber pistol from a guy named Butch Browder. He said he had bought this gun between 10:00 and 11:00pm on the same night Mike Bernos was murdered.
Price said during the purchase of this gun, Browder told him he had bought it from someone he referred to as “the Coach’s son.” Once Price realized the gun he had bought from Browder had the serial number removed, he sold it to another guy, Joe Roberson, who then lended it to his friend, Timothy Atchison. Atchison was later found to be in possession of the gun, and it was sent to the crime lab to be tested.
So, to recap, Blan was arrested on a gun charge based on information from a possible confidential informant that admitted he had purchased an illegal firearm from a guy who said he had bought it from another guy he referred to as “the Coach’s son” and then he sold it to another guy, but that guy was never arrested for it and the gun has since vanished.
You don’t have to wear a shirt that screams “Defund the Police” to believe this charge was completely fabricated by investigators, as his been suggested by Blan and his family. Chris Arthur, Blan’s close friend at the time of the murder, spoke to me at length about the gun charge.
ME: The gun was never recovered, okay? But Danny was arrested probably about a year after the murder for supposedly selling a gun, a .357 that had the serial number scratched off right? But the thing was that he was never in possession of that gun. This is why this statement comes into play, because when I asked Danny about this gun he said well, they said that I sold the gun, but I didn’t sell a gun, because person A had the gun and they gave it to person B, or sold it to person B. Person B sold it to person C, and then person C sold it to person D. Well, person D when they got arrested with it, they testified against him at trial. They said that he got it from him. And that all these other people that they had gotten it through him, so it had been sold several times before it had got to him. But there was no proof of that. The only proof was this guy’s statement saying that it had come from him. There was absolutely no proof though, and they didn’t to my knowledge, they didn’t even have the gun. And the reason that’s suspicious to me is because we know that officers were going undercover trying to get any information that they could out, and after looking through all this evidence it seems to me this is a completely made up charge. That they just made it up.
ARTHUR: It was.
ME: I don’t believe he ever had the gun or a gun in general, and I don’t believe he sold a gun.
ARTHUR: They were trying to intimidate him when they brought him in on that charge. They were trying to intimidate into pleading guilty to that, and they told him that they would knock it down to a misdemeanor. It wouldn’t be a felony if he would plead guilty, and he wouldn’t serve any jail time. But that was them trying to manufacture some evidence against him to tie him to the murder.
Let’s think about this. Price gives a statement about a gun that he had bought almost a year earlier, but is somehow able to give specific details about the conversation. And though there is a grapevine of this gun’s sale, Blan is the only one arrested for it. There’s documentation that shows the gun was received and sent to the lab for examination, but from what I can tell, nothing ever came of it.
What do you think? Was the gun in question used to kill Mike? Did Daniel Blan really sell the gun to Butch Browder? Or was the entire altered firearm situation fabricated by police in order to arrest Blan?