INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Indianapolis and Chicago Field Divisions collaborated to identify firearms used in violent crimes in Chicago that were illegally purchased in Indiana.
Agents have identified the Hoosier suspects who illegally bought the firearms (through straw purchase schemes) and took those firearms with them to Chicago where they were recovered at various violent crime scenes, according to a press release sent by the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Indiana.
A federal grand jury in Indianapolis returned several indictments on Sept. 8, 2021, charging six Indianapolis residents with multiple counts, including making false statements during the purchase of the firearm, making false statements regarding information kept by licensed firearms dealers, unlawful possession of a firearm while under felony indictment, and the unlicensed dealing of firearms.
Those six individuals were allegedly responsible for purchasing more than 90 firearms since Nov. 2020. And, more than 20 of those firearms were recovered in Chicago in various situations including murders, the execution of search warrants, mass shootings investigations and one incident where a Chicago police officer was shot.
“Those who illegally provide firearms to others fuel the violent crime crisis facing many of our major cities” Acting United States Attorney John Childress said. “Despite the fact that those who illegally provide those firearms may never pull a trigger or brandish a firearm during a crime, they are significantly responsible for the destruction and harm resulting from the use of those firearms and as a result, will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted in the Southern District of Indiana.”
“When people straw purchase firearms on behalf of those who are prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms themselves, they often end up in the hands of those who commit violent crime,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Kristen de Tineo of the Chicago Field Division said. “ATF remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney's Office’s throughout the country to investigate these firearms trafficking schemes and prosecute those responsible.”
Of those cases indicted on Sept. 8, Tashia Overton, 21, of Indianapolis, allegedly purchased a firearm from a federal firearms dealer in Greenwood. During the transaction, she allegedly provided false information regarding the required paperwork for the purchase of the firearm. Four days later, investigators with the Chicago Police Department recovered the firearm. ATF agents from the Chicago Field Division also learned that within the span of 25 days Overton had purchased 31 firearms and then sold them within three days of the purchases. To date, six of those firearms have been recovered in the Chicagoland area. The most recent recovery was from a mass shooting in Chicago.
Another case indicted on Sept. 8, also involved the alleged illegal purchase of a firearm by Eric Keys Jr., 23, of Indianapolis. According to court documents, in April of 2021, Chicago police officers responded to a shots fired incident. When they arrived at the scene, they found a 29-year-old man and a six-year-old child sitting in the car. Both were shot. The adult male survived, but the child died from their injuries. When law enforcement executed a search warrant on the suspected shooter's home, they located the gun. ATF determined that the firearm recovered was the weapon used to kill the child. It's also alleged that the same firearm was bought illegally by Keys Jr. in Indianapolis in March 2021.
In addition to Overton and Keys, the below listed individuals were also indicted September 8, 2021 on separate straw purchase cases:
- Jordan Henry, 22, Indianapolis
- Jayte Davis, 22, Indianapolis
- Kwamay Armstrong, 29, Indianapolis
- Charles Hunter, 22, Indianapolis
In addition, the eight individuals listed below have been indicted earlier this year in the Southern District of Indiana for separate straw purchase cases:
- Edward Wilson, 22, Indianapolis
- Traven Armstrong, 22, Indianapolis
- Victor Anderson, 24, Indianapolis
- Ernisha Collins, 30, Indianapolis
- Kelvin Henderson, 21, Indianapolis
- Ryanne Godfrey, 38, Indianapolis
- Sierra Vasquez, 25, Indianapolis
- Latasha Davis, 28, Indianapolis
If convicted, the defendants face up to 10 years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and up to three years supervised release.