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Feds charge alleged straw purchaser of gun used in fatal shooting of Chicago police officer

Jamel Danzy was arrested Sunday and is being held in federal custody pending a detention hearing set for Wednesday afternoon. His lawyer noted during a court hearing Monday that he has no criminal history.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown gives an update and answers questions Sunday at CPD headquarters about the shooting of two police officers Saturday night.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown gives an update and answers questions Sunday at CPD headquarters about the shooting of two police officers Saturday night.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against an Indiana man who allegedly acted as the so-called straw purchaser of the handgun used in the weekend shooting of two Chicago police officers.

Jamel Danzy, 29, of Hammond, was arrested Sunday and is being held in federal custody pending a detention hearing set for Wednesday afternoon. His lawyer noted during a court hearing Monday that he has no criminal history. He is charged with conspiracy to violate federal firearm laws.

The weekend shooting took the life of Officer Ella French, 29, and left another officer in critical condition. The feds’ decision to swiftly file charges in connection with French’s death followed a visit last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland to Chicago, where he touted a new program meant to combat gun violence in Chicago and other cities.

That program is meant, in part, to target so-called straw-purchasers who use their clean records to help put guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. A federal judge recently handed an eight-month prison sentence to a straw-purchaser connected to a December 2019 mass shooting. Danzy faces a maximum of five years behind bars.

A 10-page criminal complaint filed against Danzy shows that investigators worked well into the night following the 9 p.m. shooting Saturday at 63rd and Bell Avenue — initiating a trace of the gun that killed French at 1:15 a.m. Sunday morning.

The criminal complaint alleges that the Honda CR-V stopped by the officers was registered to Danzy, though he was not present at the shooting. The complaint also says authorities traced the gun used to kill French to Danzy through the ATF National Tracing Center. Danzy allegedly purchased the gun from a licensed dealer in Hammond on March 18.

Federal agents approached Danzy on Sunday at a Munster restaurant where he works, according to the complaint. Danzy agreed to speak to the agents, and he initially told them his purchase of the gun was legitimate, according to the complaint. Eventually, the feds say he admitted he was lying and that he had bought the gun for someone he knew could not legally purchase it because of a criminal conviction.

Authorities say that person was convicted of felony theft in 2019 in Dane County, Wisconsin. He was sentenced to three years of probation.

That person was among those taken into custody following French’s shooting, according to the feds. That person was in possession of a Glock .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol, which the feds say was the gun used to kill French.

The gun allegedly used to kill Officer Ella French.
U.S. District Court records