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U.S. Attorney’s Office Targets Straw Purchasers of Firearms, Including Man Who Illegally Purchased the Handgun Used To Kill 6-Year-Old Chicago Girl

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Friday, September 29, 2023) - Eric Lamar Keys, Jr., 25, of Indianapolis, Indiana, has been sentenced for making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. He is the latest of several defendants to be federally prosecuted for gun trafficking offenses as the U.S. Attorney’s Office partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and other federal, state and local law enforcement partners, to target illegal sources of guns used in crime.

According to court documents, on April 18, 2021, Chicago Police Department Officers were dispatched to a report of shots fired in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant. When they arrived, they found one man shot in the stomach and a 6-year-old girl who had been shot and killed. The suspect in the shooting was ultimately arrested by law enforcement officers and found to be in possession of multiple guns. A ballistics analysis later confirmed that one of the guns, a Glock .40 caliber pistol, was used to murder the 6-year-old girl. That gun was purchased by Keys in Indiana 48 days before it was used to shoot and kill the little girl.

Investigation by the ATF found that on February 21, 2021, Keys purchased a Taurus 9mm pistol from a federally licensed firearms dealer in Indianapolis, Indiana. Keys intentionally made a false statement by declaring on a required federal firearms purchase form that he was the actual buyer of the firearm, when in fact, he intended to purchase it for an individual prohibited by law from possessing a firearm in return for $750.

This form of gun trafficking is frequently referred to as “straw purchasing.” Straw purchasing occurs when a person who is allowed to legally purchase a gun from a federally licensed dealer falsely states that they are purchasing a firearm for themselves, when they know that the gun is actually intended for someone else—frequently someone who is legally prohibited from making the purchase themselves.

This sentencing comes on the tail-end of a series of similar straw purchasing cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana within the last year:

Defendant

Charge(s)

Sentence

Abdul Hadi, 34, Toronto, Canada

Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug Trafficking Crime

6.5 years’ imprisonment, 2 years supervised release, $500 fine.

Amru Hasani, 34, Indianapolis

Aiding and Abetting the Making of a False Statement during the Purchase of a Firearm

2.5 years’ imprisonment, 2 years supervised release, $500 fine.

Stephen King, 67, Indianapolis

Dealing Firearms without a License

18 months’ imprisonment, 2 years supervised release.

Ryan White, 21, Indianapolis

Dealing Firearms without a License

18 months’ imprisonment, 2 years supervised release.

Xavier Wilson, 24, Otterbein, IN

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

18 months’ imprisonment, 3 years supervised release.

Tashia Overton, 23, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

15 months imprisonment, 2 years supervised release, $250 fine.

Traven Armstrong, 26, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

1 year and 1 day imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, $500 fine.

DeAngelo Carnell, 25, Indianapolis

6 counts of Making a False Statement in Connection with the Acquisition of a Firearm and 1 count of Dealing in Firearms without a Federal License

1 year and 1 day imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, $500 fine.

Ariel Campbell, 28, Bloomington

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

10 months’ imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, $250 fine.

Kwamay Armstrong, 31, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

3 months’ imprisonment, 2 years supervised release, $250 fine

Jayte Davis, 24, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

3 months’ imprisonment, 2 years supervised release, $1000 fine.

Jordan Henry, 24, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

3 months’ imprisonment, 3 months supervised release

Sierra

Vasquez, 27, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

11 months served, 3 years supervised release, $500 fine.

Victor Anderson, 26, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

5 days served; 2 years supervised release, $1000 fine.

Stephany Irby, 28. Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

4 days served; 2 years supervised release

Erniesha Collins, 23, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

3 days served, 3 years supervised release, $250 fine.

Latasha Davis, 30, Anderson

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

3 days served, 3 years supervised release, $100 fine

Charles

Hunter, 24, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm;

Making a False Statement with Respect to Information Required to Be Kept by Licensed Firearms Dealers

2 days served; 3 years supervised release.

Destiny Langston, 23, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

3 years’ probation, $500 fine.

Eric Lamar Keys Jr., 25, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

2 years’ probation, $800 fine

Ryanne Godfrey, 40, Indianapolis

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Under Felony Indictment; Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

2 years’ probation, $250 fine

Edward Wilson, 24, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

2 years’ probation, $250 fine.

Jacob Tomlin, 28, Indianapolis

Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

2 years’ probation.

The ATF investigated these cases, with valuable assistance provided by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and the Chicago Police Department

“The tragic loss of a little girl’s life is an unfortunate example of how those who straw purchase firearms can be directly responsible for gun violence plaguing our communities,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Zachary A. Myers. “Gun traffickers help arm criminals who should never have had access to deadly weapons in the first place. Our office is committed to working closely with the ATF and local law enforcement agencies to address the sources of crime gun to reduce gun violence—and to hold gun traffickers accountable in federal court.”

“Purchasing firearms for prohibited people is a major source of crime guns around the country and here in Indiana,” stated Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “In all of these cases investigated by the ATF Chicago Trafficking Strike Force, firearms were purchased by straw buyers and ended up in the wrong hands. The hard work of Strike Force with support of the Columbus Field Division and our law enforcement partners represents ATF’s commitment to stop the flow of firearms from legal purchases to illegal commerce.”

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson imposed the sentence on Keys. Judge Stinson also ordered that Keys be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 2 years following his release from federal prison and pay an $800 fine.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Lawrence D. Hilton, Kelsey L. Massa, Jayson W. McGrath, Patrick J. Gibson, Peter A. Blackett, and Abhi Kambli, who prosecuted these cases.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana is pursuing these prosecutions as a part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Chicago Gun Trafficking Strike Force. On July 22, 2021, the Department of Justice launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country. These gun trafficking strike forces are designed to ensure coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region and Washington, D.C.

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Columbus Field Division

 

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