According to federal charges, one of the guns used in the shootout in St. Paul, which injured 15 people and killed a bystander, was purchased by a man suspected of being a straw gun buyer.
Minnesota prosecutors announced Wednesday that 25-year-old Jerome Fletcher Horton Jr. of Minneapolis is accused of providing false information when buying a firearm.
Terry Lorenzo Brown, Jr., 33, and Devondre Trevon Phillips, 29, were charged last week in Ramsey County District Court for the murder of Markisha Wiley, 27, of South St. Paul and multiple counts of attempted murder since October 10. … Truck park on Seventh Street, food hall and bar next to Xcel Energy Center.
Neither Brown nor Phillips were allowed to own a gun due to past convictions.
“As recent tragedies have shown, illegal weapons on the street make our communities less safe for everyone,” said Acting Minnesota Attorney W. Anders Folk. “Preventing straw buyers from handing over weapons to violent criminals is a priority for my office and the Department of Justice.”
A lawyer who represented Horton in court on Wednesday said she had no comment.
TRACE SHOW PISTOL PURCHASED FROM OAKDALE
After the shooting in the bar, surveillance video showed Phillips walked away and got into the car, after which he no longer had any weapons, according to affidavits filed by a special agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. in the case against Horton.
Investigators found a 9mm pistol in the vehicle, and the agent requested an “urgent tracking” of the pistol, which revealed it was one of three 9mm pistols purchased by Horton on July 31 at Fleet Farm in Blaine.
At the time, Horton submitted an ATF form stating that “he was the actual purchaser of the firearms,” the affidavit reads. A federally licensed firearms dealer will not sell weapons to persons previously convicted of a felony, “so the actual purchaser of the firearms is the fact on which the sale will depend,” the affidavit said.
ATF agents interviewed Horton on Tuesday and he said he was not involved in buying straw and said he sold seven firearms to four people, according to affidavits.
“When asked why people were paying Horton more than the retail price of firearms, Horton said that he assumed it was because buyers“ can’t get their gun licenses ”or words to that effect,” it said. sworn testimony.
The affidavit does not indicate how the pistol allegedly got to Phillips.
The 29-year-old was not allowed to own a firearm because he was convicted – a minor conviction – after being charged at 16 in Ramsey County with attempted aggravated robbery, according to a complaint against Phillips. According to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, he has not been convicted of felonies as an adult.
Brown, 33, had four felony convictions on his track record, which prevented him from legally carrying a gun.
After the shooting, Brown told police that he saw Phillips as he entered the bar. According to criminal complaints, a dispute arose between the men over allegations of domestic violence between Brown and his girlfriend, who is a relative of Phillips.
Video surveillance showed Phillips shot Brown, who returned fire, the complaints said. The man Brown spoke to was also injured. Other victims in the crowded bar were caught in crossfire, police said.
ATF works with law enforcement to trace firearms used in crimes to find out where they came from.
“With this background information, we can figure out how the criminal weapon ended up in the hands of the criminal,” said John Ortiz, ATF’s Assistant Special Agent, of Field St Paul, in a nutshell. “Any violations of federal law during the transfer of firearms will be investigated and those responsible will be held accountable.”
A review of reports revealed that Horton bought 33 firearms from June 15 to Sunday – from Fleet Farm locations in Brooklyn Park, Oakdale, Blaine and Lakeville, along with DKMags in New Brighton and Frontiersman Sports in St. Louis Park.
The surveillance video showed other people were with Horton during several purchases, “which could be a sign of buying straw,” ATF’s special agent said in a statement.
The agent spoke to a Frontiersman employee on Oct.15, who said a co-worker had written down Horton’s license plate due to suspicions of buying straw. A worker’s notes on September 29 said that Horton’s car was parked in the parking lot of a nearby facility to avoid security cameras in their store, he made several purchases over the course of two days and waved boxes of weapons in the air at people waiting outside as he walked. out, according to the affidavit.
Later that evening, the agent heard from Frontiersman that Horton was again at the store and was trying to buy another weapon, but the seller told him that the purchase should be postponed until next week and did not sell him the weapon.
During Horton’s last gun purchase, at Fleet Farm in Oakdale on Sunday, surveillance footage reviewed by the ATF showed that Horton appeared to have used his cell phone to take photographs or videos, which is “common for straw gun buyers … show the third is “The party that was intended for the recipient of the firearm,” so they avoid being checked by a licensed firearm dealer and do not appear in surveillance footage, the agent wrote in an affidavit.
On Tuesday, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Horton’s home and found no firearms, which an ATF agent said is a sign of buying straw, as people who have multiple pistols usually keep at least one in their home.
Initially, Horton reported that in addition to selling weapons to various people, 10 to 15 weapons were stolen when an abandoned car was broken into. He later said they had not been stolen, saying that he hid them near the Lamplighter Lounge on Larpenter Avenue and Rice Street in St. Paul.
Horton was arrested Tuesday and appeared in court on Wednesday.