Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced the arrest of five Delaware defendants, who are facing 87 felony charges related to the illegal straw purchases of firearms over a two year period.
According to the indictment, the five suspect are accused of purchasing over 60 firearms. Two of those guns were recovered at crime scenes, a homicide in Dover and a suicide in New Castle County.
Investigators say one of the suspects, Keyon Eley, is an admitted member of the Piru 700 Blood gang and purchased 38 firearms across Sussex County from July 2020 to March 2021. Investigators say guns recovered from crime scenes in Baltimore, West Chester (Pennsylvania), Dover and Laurel (Delaware) were traced back to the suspect.
The other suspects include:
Karen Morris and Shane Willey are accused of straw purchasing eight guns, including six in a two-day span. One of those firearms ended up in the hands of a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest.
Malik Jarvis, accused of purchasing 15 firearms and falsifying information on FFL application. One of those firearms was found at the scene of a suicide in New Castle County in January 2021.
Paige Morris is accused of buying three firearms in April 2021. The purchases triggered a multiple sales report to the ATF. Nine days later, one of the guns purchased was recovered at the scene of a homicide in Dover. Investigators say Morris later admitted to Dover Police that she purchased a gun for herself, her boyfriend who committed the murder, and a friend. Her boyfriend, Riley Braswell, was found in New York by U.S. Marshalls and extradited back to Delaware.
Jennings says the indictments show a need to enact policies that can prevent purchases like these from happening again.
FULL NEWS RELEASE
Guns used in Dover homicide, New Castle County suicide; many remain unrecovered
Attorney General Kathy Jennings joined law enforcement and prosecutors Wednesday to announce that the DOJ has secured 87 felony charges against five defendants who are collectively charged with illegally purchasing and providing to others more than 60 firearms, including guns recovered at the scene of a Dover homicide and a New Castle County suicide.
“This is a close-up, tragic look at the damage that straw purchases do and the support that law enforcement needs in order to keep guns out of criminals’ hands,” said Attorney General Jennings. “These indictments are the result of a lengthy, collaborative investigation by federal, state, and local law enforcement. And while today represents a major step forward for accountability, the fact remains that the guns these defendants illegally purchased have already taken at least two lives. Dozens more are currently unaccounted for and can still do untold harm. We owe law enforcement a debt of gratitude for their work in these cases. We will pursue full justice for the victims of these crimes. And we will continue to fight to enact policies that can prevent these illegal purchases from happening in the first place.”
“Even one gun in the hands of someone prohibited from having it or someone with criminal intentions is too many,” said ATF Baltimore Assistant Special Agent in Charge Andre Miller. “In these cases we see it happened not just once, but numerous times. The threat that poses to public safety is unacceptable and, as evidenced by the fatal shooting of two people, very real. ATF will continue to work tirelessly alongside our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners and prosecutors here in Delaware, using Crime Gun Intelligence and our strong partnerships to identify, prevent, and arrest a straw purchasers.”
The indictments follow a collaborative task force investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), with local support from Delaware State Police, Dover Police Department, Laurel Police Department, and local law enforcement in Maryland.
The charges and allegations are as follows:
State v. Keyon Eley
Between July 28, 2020 and March 16, 2021, Keyon Eley, an admitted member of the Piru 700 Blood gang, purchased 38 firearms from five different federal firearms licenses (FFLs) in Sussex County. On February 23, 2021, Laurel Police Department conducted a search warrant for drug activity and located gun boxes for two firearms that Eley purchased, along with a laundry hamper filled with various firearm magazines and ammunition, and two additional empty gun boxes for firearms not purchased by Eley. From May through September of the same year, local police in Baltimore, Dover, and West Chester, PA recovered firearms that were traced back to purchases Eley made. Eley has relinquished two of the 38 firearms he purchased; the remaining 33 are still unaccounted for. Eley is charged with 36 counts of Engaging in a Firearms Transaction on Behalf of Another, each carrying a potential sentence of 0-5 years, and 29 counts of False Statement, each carrying a potential sentence of 0-2 years.
State v. Karen Morris and Shane Willey
Between August 7, 2021 and October 26, 2021, Karen Morris purchased eight firearms, including six in the span of two days, from two FFLs. Following a Task Force investigation, Morris eventually admitted to purchasing all eight firearms for Jeremiah McDonald, who provided Morris the money for the guns. A search of Morris’ cell phone revealed several text messages regarding types of firearms and prices, as well as evidence that McDonald was supplying Morris with heroin. Surveillance footage from one of the FFLs shows Morris and an accomplice, Shane Willey, texting and purchasing the firearms indicated in the text messages on her phone. One of the firearms Morris purchased was found in the possession of Cedrick Fooks, a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest; the other 7 are currently unaccounted for. Morris is charged with nine counts of Engaging in a Firearms Transaction on Behalf of Another, each carrying a potential sentence of 0-5 years, and five counts of False Statement, each carrying a potential sentence of 0-2 years. Shane Willey is charged with three counts of Engaging in a Firearms Transaction on Behalf of Another, each carrying a potential sentence of 0-5 years, and one count of Conspiracy 2nd Degree, carrying a potential sentence of 0-2 years.
State v. Malik Jarvis
Between January 23, 2021 and February 20, 2021, Malik Jarvis purchased 15 firearms, making false statements to an FFL in order to obtain them. One of the firearms that Jarvis purchased was used in a New Castle County suicide on January 28, 2021 and two more were later recovered in New York, including one seized during the execution of a warrant against a street gang. The remaining 12 firearms are currently unaccounted for. Jarvis faces four counts of False Statement, each carrying a sentence of 0-2 years.
State v. Paige Morris
Paige Morris is accused of purchasing three firearms on April 3, 2021, triggering a multiple sale report to the ATF. The FFL that made the sale informed Task Force officers that two males came into the store to look at firearms but did not make any purchases. Just 15 minutes later, Morris came into the store and purchased the two firearms the men were looking at, along with a third firearm. Surveillance footage from outside the FFL showed the men and Morris arriving in the same car. On April 12, 2021 – nine days after the purchase – a homicide occurred in Dover and one of the firearms Morris purchased was recovered from the scene. Morris subsequently confessed to purchasing the firearms at the behest of her boyfriend, Riley Braswell, and friend Nasir Williams, and purchasing a third firearm for herself. Morris relinquished her firearm to the police. Braswell was charged with Murder First Degree and extradited from New York; Williams was interviewed and admitted to receiving the gun from Morris but claimed that he no longer knew its whereabouts. That firearm is currently unaccounted for. Morris faces two counts of Engaging in a Firearms Transaction on Behalf of Another, each carrying a potential sentence of 0-5 years, one count of Providing a Firearm to a Person Prohibited, carrying a potential sentence of 0-3 years, and one count of False Statement, carrying a potential sentence of 0-2 years.
Deputy Attorney General Lindsay Taylor secured these charges following an investigation led by Special Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Wilmington Field Office, Det. Tim Stock of the Delaware State Police, and M/Cpl. Josh Boesenberg of the Dover Police Department.