A CRIME GUN INTELLIGENCE CASE STUDY: ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA
To further illustrate the way that the layering and leveraging of Crime Gun Intelligence (CGI) can provide crucial information during an investigation, consider this case originally reported in the media from Erie, Pennsylvania.*
In this case, Erie police officers had responded to a report of gunshots being fired in a residential area. The responding officers spotted two suspects fitting the descriptions provided and gave chase on foot.
Only one of the individuals (Suspect #1) was apprehended. Police also recovered two firearms—a .45-caliber pistol and a 9mm pistol—in the immediate area where the two suspects had been spotted.
Suspect #1 admitted to possessing the .45-caliber pistol and was charged with its unlawful possession.
Several months later, Suspect #1 pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve between eleven and one-half months and twenty-three months in prison.
Every crime gun holds a story, so the Erie detectives set out to learn the one that the 9mm pistol was holding.
Most notably, the pistol was examined for forensic CGI. It was swabbed for DNA, processed for latent fingerprints, and test-fired for ballistics comparison to other crimes.
Invaluable CGI was extracted from the 9mm pistol:
- The DNA tests confirmed the presence of Suspect #1’s DNA.
- A latent fingerprint developed on the surface of the pistol was identified as belonging to a second person (Suspect #2).
- The ballistics search conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police linked the pistol to the murder of a young man killed three days before the Erie police recovered it.
- Suspect #2, was interviewed by detectives about his fingerprint found on the murder weapon. He admitted that, on the night of the homicide, he was in a vehicle with three other people when he was handed a loaded gun and was told to fire at a white Cadillac. He said that he fired the gun six to seven times and as they passed by the Cadillac, he could see the victim slumped over in the driver’s seat.
- Suspect #2 was charged with criminal homicide and other offenses, and Suspect #1 was charged with new firearm violations related to his unlawful possession of the 9mm pistol, which held his DNA.
*End Note: Tim Hahn, “Gun Recovered in Erie Linked to Another Crime,” GoErie.com, December 19, 2017; Tim Hahn, “Charges Filed in June 2016 Erie Homicide,” GoErie.com, October 27, 2017; Tim Hahn, “Erie Man Faces Trial in Gun Possession Case,” GoErie.com, February 10, 2018.