The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

From the Ottawa Citizen: August 16, 2009, A handgun’s deadly journey, Bought in Maine, smuggled across the border, recovered after a double homicide in Ottawa

Posted by cgccanada on August 18, 2009

On June 13, 2006, two men in an older-model four-door Mercury pulled up to Maine Military Supply in Brewer, Maine. Inside the store, one of the men, a Canadian named Andrew Porter, discreetly took a large wad of cash from his pocket and handed it to the other man, Lawrence Sears. Sears, a Maine resident, spoke to the clerk while Porter walked around the store. Sears then paid $1,427.92 in cash for eight Hi-Point pistols. He bought the handguns for Porter, who later told authorities that he had smuggled them across the border. Just over a year later, one of the guns was found by Ottawa police investigating a double homicide at a Montreal Road motel room. “There was a gun recovered and a serial number off that gun was traced back to one of these eight that was purchased in Brewer,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, who worked on the illegal gun purchase cases involving Porter, who is from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and a handful of Maine residents who bought firearms for him, including Sears. The judge was told that “we did not have any evidence that Mr. Sears or Mr. Porter knew that the gun was going to be used a year later in a homicide in Ottawa,” he said. Ottawa police won’t comment on details of the double homicide, since the man they arrested in connection with the deaths is scheduled to go to trial this fall. However, police Chief Vern White said the gun trace had uncovered a good example of the impact the activity is having on Ottawa. White, an advocate of tightening up the border and “heavier-hitting” legislation when it comes to people found guilty of transporting illegal firearms, said, “I think it’s indicative of what we see, guns coming across the border illegally that are having a direct impact on crime in this city.” Police found a bloody scene when they responded to a call about a man suffering from convulsions in the parking lot of Pari’s Motel at about 10 p.m. on June 21, 2007. Officers discovered the body of a 28-year-old man who had been shot once in the upper chest. After probing further, police discovered a second body, that of a 32-year-old man, tied to a bed in one of the hotel rooms. He had died from a gunshot wound to the head. A man was arrested in Markham in the days following the shooting. Back in the U.S., Andrew Porter and a handful of Maine residents pleaded guilty after facing several charges in connection with the illegal gun purchases, also known as “straw purchases.” A gun shop owner in Machais, Maine, contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in June 2006 to report that two men (later determined to be Sears and Porter) had tried to buy 10 guns on June 12, 2006. Porter had told the store owner that he had just moved to the area from Florida and didn’t have identification, so Sears would have to buy them for him, court documents show. Porter was arrested on Sept. 12, 2007, and told U.S. authorities that he would take handguns bought for him back to Canada, where they would be delivered to other people. Had the cases gone to trial, prosecutors expected Sears to testify that he bought 50 to 60 handguns for Porter, whom he saw hide the guns in his vehicle. Another Maine resident who worked as a gun salesman had said that Porter paid him $30 to $40 for each gun bought for him, according to documents.  Evidence entered in court shows that other Canadian police forces have seized guns that Porter brought into Canada. One handgun was recovered by Peel Regional police after an alleged street gang member flashed it to a nightclub employee during an argument, while a Saint John police officer found another pistol in the pocket of a 19-year-old man.  Last year, Porter pleaded guilty to six offences, including violation of the Arms Control Export Act, and was sentenced to 31 months in prison on each count, to be served concurrently.

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