CHICAGO — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago today charged an Indiana man with federal firearm violations for allegedly conspiring to straw purchase a semi-automatic handgun that the charges allege was used to shoot two Chicago Police officers last weekend, including the fatal wounding of Officer Ella French.
JAMEL DANZY purchased the firearm at a federal firearms dealer in Hammond, Ind., on March 18, 2021, and falsely certified on the required forms that he was the actual buyer, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. In reality, Danzy was a straw purchaser who bought the gun at the request of someone whom Danzy knew resided in Chicago, Ill., and was not lawfully allowed to purchase a firearm due to a felony criminal conviction, the complaint states. Danzy gave the firearm to the Illinois resident shortly after the purchase, the complaint states.
Officer French was shot and killed and another CPD officer was critically wounded Saturday night during a traffic stop of a vehicle on the South Side of Chicago. The handgun was used in the shooting, the complaint states. The Illinois resident to whom Danzy gave the gun was one of the vehicle’s occupants and was arrested by responding officers, the complaint states. At the time of his arrest, the Illinois resident was in possession of the handgun purchased by Danzy, according to the complaint.
Danzy, 29, of Hammond, Ind., is charged with conspiracy to violate federal firearm laws, including knowingly transferring and giving a firearm to an out-of-state resident, knowingly making a false written statement to acquire a firearm, and knowingly disposing of a firearm to a convicted felon. Danzy made an initial appearance this afternoon in federal court in Chicago and was ordered to remain detained in federal custody. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert scheduled a detention hearing for Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.
“Straw purchasers and firearm traffickers enable violence with deadly consequences,” said John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “Fighting violent crime is a top priority in our office, and we are committed to holding accountable those who engage in illicit firearm transactions.”
U.S. Attorney Lausch announced the charges along with Kristen de Tineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Prashant Kolluri.
“Tragedies like this happen when people straw purchase firearms on behalf of those who are prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms themselves,” said ATF SAC de Tineo. “ATF remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate these firearms trafficking schemes and prosecute those responsible.”
Disrupting illegal firearms trafficking is a centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s cross-jurisdictional strike force aimed at reducing gun violence. As part of the Chicago strike force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collaborates with ATF, CPD, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in the Northern District of Illinois and across the country to help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms and identify patterns, leads, and potential suspects in violent gun crimes.
The federal conspiracy charge against Danzy is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Law enforcement continues to investigate the murder of Officer French and the wounding of the other CPD officer.