Six AK-47 rifles and about 700 bullets were on Tuesday found in the compound of a man suspected of shooting dead his sister-in-law over land in Burnt Forest, Uasin Gishu County.
Mr Robert Leshau was lynched by a mob at 4am after the guns were discovered.
An armed Mr Leshau is said to have stormed his brother Peter Kiprop’s kitchen on Monday evening and started firing indiscriminately, killing the woman.
Security officers, led by Eldoret East police boss Nelson Taliti, combed the man’s bushy compound in search of the weapon they believed had been used in the murder.
Instead of one weapon, and after a three-hour search, the officers found six rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
ALUMINIUM MILK CONTAINER
Two people police say are friends of the suspect are in custody.
The ammunition was found in an aluminium milk container buried in the ground about 20 metres from the compound.
A gun detector and police dogs were used in the search as eager neighbours helped.
Alongside the six firearms were 617 AK-47 bullets, 28 revolver bullets and 24 Ceska bullets.
Police also found booklets and papers and AK-47 manuals and material downloaded from the Internet on how to acquire a licensed gun in Kenya.
Some of the material had information about the Guns Licensing Bureau.
Mr Kiprop said when Mr Leshau stormed his brother’s kitchen at 8pm on Monday, he fired 17 bullets at Mrs Mary Chepkomoi, who was cooking accompanied by her sister, Ms Irene Chepng’eno, who was shot in the ankle.
“I was in the sitting room when I heard gunshots in the kitchen and a sharp cry from my wife. I dived to the floor and switched off the lights,” he said.
Mr Kiprop said his brother turned his attention to the sitting room when the lights went off.
“I crawled on the floor and tried to escape through the rear door, but he was there and fired at me. Luckily, I was quick and jumped back and another 18 bullets were sprayed on the wall,” a teary Mr Kiprop said.
The families of the two brothers have been embroiled in a protracted land dispute and Mr Leshau is said to have threatened to kill his mother in the past.
Villagers said Mr Leshau, who holds a master’s degree in economics, once worked in Mombasa and Garissa although it is not clear what jobs he was doing there.
Neighbours said Mr Leshau would at times fire in the air while testing his guns.
In a meeting called by about 10 security agency heads and attended by over 200 villagers after the weapons were found, a resident, Mrs Mary Sambu, wept as she narrated how a chief had ignored fears raised by the people.
“We have been informing the chief that there were guns in this village almost every month but he has not done anything about it. Gunshots have been common in this area since February but our complaints had gone unheeded,” Mrs Sambu, a relative of the family said.
Eldoret East District Officer Abdi Mahmud said the chief, Mr Fred Killy Kiba, had been suspended and would be investigated.
Residents also accused police officers from the Rurigi and Olare police posts of not acting even after they were informed of the existence of firearms in the area.
The angry residents also said the chief disregarded the names of people who had been forwarded to him after the public heeded the Nyumba Kumi initiative.
“We can now sleep easy at night. We have gone for too long without sleep since we did not know whom the bullets would be used on,” another resident, Mrs Rose Sawe, said.