Federal prosecutors Monday charged an Indiana man with purchasing and then illegally supplying the semi-automatic handgun used in a weekend shooting in Chicago that left one police officer dead and another severely wounded.
Jamel Danzy, 29, is accused of buying the weapon from a licensed gun dealer in Hammond, Indiana, in March and then providing it to an Illinois resident who Danzy knew could neither buy nor possess guns because of a felony conviction.
The person who received it was in a vehicle from which someone shot the officers Saturday night during a traffic stop and that the same gun was recovered from the person by arresting officers, a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago said.
Two other people were also in the vehicle, though no charges were immediately announced. Monday’s statement from prosecutors also didn’t say who fired the gun at the officers.
Ella French, 29, was fatally shot Saturday night in an exchange of gunfire during a traffic stop on the city’s South Side. Her death was the first fatal shooting of a Chicago officer in the line of duty since 2018 and the first female officer fatally shot on the job in 33 years. The Chicago Police Department’s Facebook page said Sunday even that French’s wounded partner remained in “hospital fighting for his life.”
Danzy, of Hammond, made an initial appearance Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Chicago on conspiracy to violate federal firearm laws, including knowingly transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident and knowingly disposing of a firearm to a convicted felon. The conspiracy conviction carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert ordered Danzy be held at least until a Wednesday detention hearing.
Chicago has for years sought to stem the inflow of guns that has helped fueled persistently high homicide rates in the city, especially from nearby states like Indiana, where guns rules aren’t as stringent.
The U.S. attorney’s office highlighted how the Department of Justice has made stemming illegal gun trafficking a high priority.
“Straw purchasers and firearm traffickers enable violence with deadly consequences,” U.S. Attorney John Lausch said in a statement.
Officers had stopped a vehicle Saturday with two men and a woman inside just after 9 p.m. local time, when a male passenger opened fire, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Sunday. Officers returned fire, striking the passenger who appeared to fire at them, said Brown.
The superintendent said it was too soon to say why the vehicle was stopped and what might have happened just before the shooting began. He said available evidence included police body camera footage.
The last Chicago officer shot to death in the line of duty was 28-year-old Samuel Jimenez, who was killed after responding to a shooting at a hospital on Nov. 19, 2018.
Two officers, Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo, died when they were struck by a train while pursuing a suspect on Dec. 17, 2018. The department also considers the COVID-19 deaths of four officers last year’s line-of-duty deaths.
The last female officer shot to death in the line of duty was Irma Ruiz, who was shot inside an elementary school in 1988.
By Michael Tarm