Police: Christmas Eve firefighter shooter used ‘straw purchaser’ to acquire weapons
The 62-year-old convicted felon who gunned down two firefighters and wounded three first responders on Christmas Eve in Webster, New York used weapons his neighbor illegally purchased for him, according to state and federal authorities.
The neighbor, 24-year-old Dawn Nguyen, was arrested on Friday after police traced the serial numbers on two weapons used by William Spengler, the shooter: a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun, both purchased in 2010.
While this so-called “straw purchasing” is illegal, the U.S. Department of Justice sanctioned the practice between 2006 and 2011.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed straw purchasers to illegally purchase approximately 2,000 firearms as and transport them across the United States’ southern border as part of Operation Fast and Furious, in an apparent attempt to track the guns to high-level officials in Mexico’s drug cartels.
None of those top officials has been arrested, and the operation has led to the deaths of an estimated 300 Mexican nationals and at least one U.S. Border Patrol agent.