(NEW YORK) — More than 200 firearms were found at the home of the suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders, officials said.

Rex A. Heuermann, 59, a Manhattan architect, was arrested in Manhattan last week and charged with three first-degree murders.

“We wanted to take him into custody somewhere outside the house, because of access to those weapons,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney told ABC News.

Heuermann has been charged with the murders of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Costello, whose bodies were found covered in burlap along Ocean Parkway on Long Island’s South Shore in December 2010. He was also named the “prime suspect” in the death of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, a fourth woman discovered in the same spot, police said.

The guns explain why police would have chosen to arrest him away from home, former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America on Tuesday.

Investigators would have searched databases and discovered that Heuermann had dozens of gun permits, Boyce said.

“You don’t want to go into that house — you want to take him off premise,” Boyce said. “This way it’s safer for everybody.”

Investigators were on Tuesday digging into Heuermann’s life and checking to see if they could tie him to unsolved murders or missing persons cases throughout New York state, an NYPD official told ABC News.

The suspect’s DNA has been entered into a statewide database, available to all law enforcement agencies in New York.

Heuermann’s defense attorney, Michael Brown, said in a statement Monday: “There is nothing about Mr. Heuermann that would suggest that he is involved in these incidents. And while the government has decided to focus on him despite more significant and stronger leads, we are looking forward to defending him in a court of law before a fair and impartial jury of his peers.”

ABC News’ Mark Osborne contributed to this story.

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