Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

April 27, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Police Recover Loaded Shotgun Accessible to 2-year-old

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that charges were filed against two individuals for their participation in the straw purchase of a regulated firearm as part of Operation Crime Gun, his illegal gun prosecution initiative. Shannon Lee Borum, 25, of 500 North Patuxent Road, Odenton, and Eric Rondell Downey, 22, of 496 North Patuxent Road, Odenton, were arrested yesterday and charged by way of criminal information for their participation in the straw purchase of a handgun.

A straw purchase is where an individual uses another person, the straw purchaser, to complete the application to purchase a regulated firearm. A straw purchase is often employed by individuals who are prohibited from themselves possessing a firearm because of disqualifying events such as prior criminal convictions. The straw purchaser, who is not disqualified to possess a regulated firearm, then takes initial possession of that firearm, and subsequently transfers that firearm to the disqualified individual. Therefore, all of the laws designed to keep regulated firearms out of the possession of certain prohibited persons are entirely circumvented.

On January 30, 2001, it is alleged that Borum and Downey entered Arundel Firearms and Pawn Incorporated and began looking at firearms. Borum submitted an application to purchase a 12 gauge shotgun, because she was "not disapproved" she was allowed to take the shotgun that day. Borum also applied to purchase a 22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which is considered a regulated firearm. That application was submitted to the Maryland State Police Firearms Registration Section for the seven day criminal background investigation to be completed. One of the questions asked of Borum on the application was whether she was engaged in a straw purchase, and she answered that she was not. On February 9, 2001, Borum was not disqualified from possessing the handgun, and was permitted to return to the firearms dealer and take possession of the firearm.

On February 23, 2001, members of the Cease-fire Unit of the Maryland State Police conducted an investigation into the purchase of the firearms and they discovered that Borum had already given Downey both the shotgun and handgun. She allegedly was given the money to purchase the weapons by Downey. The handgun was retrieved from his vehicle, and the shotgun was recovered from under a futon bed in Downey’s residence. The shotgun was fully loaded, and easily accessible to a 2-year-old child living at the residence. It is alleged that Downey is disqualified from possessing a regulated firearm himself because of having been adjudicated delinquent for the offense of Distribution of Cocaine as a juvenile. A new law which took effect on October 1, 2000, makes such adjudications as a juvenile a disqualifying condition if the person is under the age of 30, which Downey was at the time he was found in possession of the handgun. According to Attorney General Curran, this is the first time this particular provision of the Responsible Gun Safety Act of 2000 has been used by prosecutors.

Both are charged with conspiracy and engaging in a straw purchase of a regulated firearm. In addition, Borum is charged with two counts of illegal transfer of a regulated firearm, and Downey is charged with one count of illegal purchase of a regulated firearm. Downey is also charged with being in illegal possession of a regulated firearm as a result of his previous juvenile adjudication. Each of these offenses carries five years incarceration and/or a $5,000 fine. Finally, Downey is charged with unlawfully transporting a handgun (which carries three years incarceration and/or $2,500 fine), and providing access to a firearm by a minor (which carries a $1,000 fine). Both of these individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Cease Fire Unit of the Maryland State Police and will be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General, Special Crimes Unit, Criminal Investigations Division, in connection with a partnership the two agencies have formed to further efforts to combat handgun violations. Funding for Operation Crime Gun comes from a grant received from the Governor’’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention.