HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrest of a Harrisburg woman who has been charged with straw purchasing three firearms.
“Purchasing a gun for someone who isn’t legally able to carry one is a crime that leads to shooting and murders. People need to know — we follow up on these guns and we hold straw purchasers accountable across Pennsylvania,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Let me be crystal clear — don’t break the law by buying a firearm for someone who can’t have one. Ever. It makes all of us less safe and feeds the gun violence epidemic in our neighborhoods.”
Melanie Yingling was arrested on Tuesday, Sept. 29 for three counts of illegal sale/transfer of a firearm and three counts of unsworn falsification to authorities.
In fall 2019, the Office of Attorney General’s Gun Violence Section was requested by the Middletown Borough Police Department to assist them with an investigation involving straw purchases of firearms. On Oct. 4, 2019, Middletown PD was investigating a domestic dispute involving a female who was threatened with a handgun. The male suspect in the dispute was arrested and his residence was searched. An empty Glock 19 gun case was located in the process.
An eTrace record on the serial number listed on the empty Glock 19 box listed Melanie Yingling as the initial buyer. When interviewed, Yingling admitted to being accompanied by a male acquaintance who provided her with the funds to purchase three different firearms he had selected. Yingling stated the male acquaintance took possession of one of the firearms as soon as they left the store and that she placed the other two in a book bag in his car and never saw them again.
The case is being prosecuted by Dauphin County District Attorney Francis Chardo.
“We know that straw purchases of guns often lead to violent crime. We are committed to prosecuting these felony offenses and preventing the illegal acquisition of firearms by convicted felons,” said Dauphin County District Attorney Francis Chardo.
The Office of Attorney General’s Track + Trace initiative has dramatically expanded law enforcement’s ability to track down crime guns and prevent shootings. In the year since the initiative launched, the Office of Attorney General has seen success in its efforts to combat gun trafficking in Pennsylvania, such as:
- The number of gun purchases being run through eRecord of sale has increased 600%;
- The number of law enforcement agencies sharing crime gun data has increased 68%;
- The number of gun trace reports shared in law enforcement between July 2019 and July 2020 has increased 824%.
“Thanks to the hard work of our Gun Violence Section and the Middletown Borough Police Department, we continue to get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” said Shapiro.
All charges discussed are accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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