Firearm Illegally Purchased in Tuscaloosa Linked to Boston Homicide
Three Tuscaloosa residents pleaded guilty to illegally purchasing over 40 guns from a local pawn shop, one of which was used in the killing of a 17-year-old girl in Boston, Massachusetts last year.
The guns were bought through a process called "straw purchasing," in which an individual knowingly buys a gun on behalf of another person who can't legally purchase or possess a firearm.
Michael Tiree Coleman, 24, of Tuscaloosa, was the most recent person to plead guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler to giving a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. Tuscaloosa residents Jeremy Bernard Brown, 30, and Demarcus Montez Walker, 25, pleaded guilty earlier this year to the same charge.
According to court documents, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Birmingham Field Division received a referral from ATF's Crime Gun Intelligence Center about multiple people purchasing firearms from Three Factors Unlimited, Inc., doing business as Wade's Jewelry and Pawn.
Both Dayquan A. Haley, 23, and Darius Marquise Collins, 25, of Boston, Massachusetts allegedly partnered with Coleman, Brown and Walker, who were permitted to buy firearms from licensed dealers in Alabama. They reportedly falsified documents by specifically stating that they were the actual buyers.
Haley and Collins, as Massachusetts residents, could not legally buy guns in the state. The release says they provided the three straw purchasers with funds to buy the guns, and also paid them supplementally for the purchase.
The three individuals reportedly purchased 42 handguns from the store in Tuscaloosa between November 2019 and March 2021. The release also says Coleman purchased three more firearms from Blue Bore Armory in Demopolis.
These guns have been in circulation both locally and outside of the state.
On March 11, 2020, officers in South Carolina conducted a traffic stop on Haley and found he was in possession of several firearms, 14 of which were purchased earlier by Walker from Wade's Jewelry and Pawn.
Several firearms were recovered by law enforcement in Boston as well. One of the firearms, also purchased by Walker in Alabama on November 18, 2019, was used in a homicide in Boston on April 15, 2020. According to the Boston Police Department, Alissa King, 17, of Dorchester was fatally shot by Anthony Kelley, 18, also of Dorchester in brought daylight, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
On July 20, 2020, Uniontown, Alabama police officers encountered Collins and Haley at the E&Z Event Center and discovered they were in possession of several of the firearms that Brown straw purchased earlier that month.
Collins and Haley were ultimately arrested in October on charges related to conspiracy to falsify information on firearm acquisition records in separate but related indictments filed in the Northern District of Alabama.
The two were arraigned Wednesday before United States Magistrate Judge Staci G. Cornelius.
These are the latest in a series of arrests and charges after a months-long investigation of straw purchases in Tuscaloosa. This initiative, spearheaded by Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley in conjunction with ATF and other state and federal agencies, recently saw over 100 firearms seized, resulting in over 20 felonies.
Coleman, Brown, and Walker face up to 10 years in prison for giving a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. Haley and Collins face up to five years on their aforementioned charges.
Coleman is scheduled for sentencing on March 22, 2022, while Brown and Walker's sentences are scheduled for May 24, 2022.