Gary gun shop sued for selling guns used in Chicago crimes
CHICAGO (AP) — The city of Chicago on Monday filed a lawsuit against an Indiana gun store, contending it has sold hundreds of guns to straw buyers that in turn have ended up in the hands of felons or at crime scenes in the city.
The lawsuit filed in Cook County Chancery Court seeks an order requiring Westforth Sports Inc. of Gary to cease practices contributing to gun trafficking, as well as unspecified damages.
The lawsuit alleges Westforth Sports repeatedly broke federal gun laws in connection with dozens of sales, resulting in federal criminal charges against several alleged straw purchasers.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said research by the city and federal law enforcement partners has shown Westforth Sports is selling thousands of crime guns every year.
“The time for us to stop to ask them to do better and make sure they’re not selling to straw purchases, do what they’re required to do as a federally licensed gun dealer, is over,” Lightfoot said during an unrelated event. “We’ve tried that. It hasn’t worked. So now we’re in litigation with them.”
Westforth Sports had no immediate comment.
The lawsuit notes more than 40 federal criminal prosecutions for illegal gun purchases involving Westforth have been brought in the Northern District of Indiana since 2014. It contends one of the most egregious is the case of Darryl Ivery Jr., 24, who was charged with federal gun offenses last year.
Several of the guns eventually turned up on Chicago’s streets, according to the lawsuit. In one instance, a gun Ivery bought was found at the scene of a shooting in Chicago just 22 days later. Others were found at crime scenes less than a week after Ivery purchased them. Many of them are still believed to be “in circulation” on the streets.
One of the most egregious examples of Westforth’s activities, according to the suit, is the case of Darryl Ivery Jr., 24, who was charged with federal gun offenses last year.
Citing court records, the lawsuit contends Westforth sold Ivery 19 handguns over 14 separate transactions between February and August 2020. During several visits, he purchased multiple firearms at a time.
During questioning by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents in August, Ivery said he’d bought all but one of the guns “for individuals he had met and resided in Chicago,” according to the charges filed against Ivery last year.
Ivery is currently free on bail awaiting trial, records show.
The lawsuit also cites a Taurus semi-automatic pistol purchased from Westforth Sports on Dec. 16, 2019 by Marqwan Blasingame. The weapon was recovered by Gary police the next day and determined it may have been used in a homicide the same day.
Blasingame admitted to the ATF he was straw purchasing weapons for others at Westforth Sports and other gun shops in Indiana, according to prosecutors. He has pleaded not guilty to federal gun violations and is awaiting trial, according to court records.