By DON BABWIN Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — A 23-year-old Indianapolis man has been charged with illegally purchasing a gun that was used in the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl in Chicago, law enforcement officials announced.
A federal grand jury indicted Eric Keys Jr. in the illegal purchase in March used in the killing of a child in April, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana said in a news release Thursday.
The office did not name the child who was killed, but two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, identified the child as Jaslyn Adams.
The April 18 shooting at a McDonald’s drive-thru left Jaslyn dead and seriously wounded her 28-year-old father, Jontae Adams.
According to the release, a gun found inside the home of one of the suspects was determined to have been used in the shooting. An investigation determined that Keys bought the weapon.
Three men have been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting, including one man who was seriously injured after he crashed a vehicle trying to elude officers and then attempting to steal a family’s car on a Chicago-area expressway.
Prosecutors have said surveillance video shows two men repeatedly shooting at the victims’ car while the third suspect waited behind the wheel. Twenty-eight shell casings were found at the scene.
Keys is one of six Indianapolis residents charged last month with making false statements during the purchase of a firearm and making false statements about information required to be kept by licensed firearms dealers, according to the release. The six had bought more than 90 firearms since November 2020 and more than 20 of those weapons have been recovered in Chicago “in various situations including murder scenes, the execution of search warrants, mass shootings investigations where a Chicago police officer was shot,” prosecutors said.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced this summer that it had launched strike forces across the United States aimed at disrupting illegal firearms trafficking, including so-called straw purchases in which a person buys a gun to sell or give to someone who is prohibited from having one.
In August, days after Chicago Police Officer Ella French was fatally shot during a traffic stop , Jamel Danzy was charged with purchasing the gun used in her killing from a licensed gun dealer in Hammond, Indiana. The charges accuse him of illegally supplying the weapon to an Illinois resident that Danzy knew could neither buy nor possess guns because of a felony conviction.
The release said Keys and the others who were recently indicted face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
John Childress, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, said in a statement that the punishment is justified.
“Despite the fact that those who illegally provide those firearms may never pull a trigger or brandish a firearm during a crime, they are significantly responsible for the destruction and harm resulting from the use of those firearms,” he said.