AG Shapiro: Two Arrested for Gun Straw Purchasing in Columbia County
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced two felony arrests in Columbia County after an investigation into a report of shots fired uncovered multiple straw purchased firearms. On Wednesday, Lester Armstrong, 48, of Bloomsburg, was charged with multiple counts of Persons Not to Possess Firearms and Criminal Conspiracy. Paula Brooking, 41, of Bloomsburg was charged with multiple counts of illegal Transfer of Firearms, Criminal Conspiracy, and Unsworn Falsification.
“There are 1,500 gun deaths in Pennsylvania per year, and this epidemic is fueled in part by straw purchasing,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “A straw purchase is when one individual purchases a firearm for someone who is prohibited from buying one. It is important for all Pennsylvanians to know that straw purchasing is a serious crime with serious consequences and puts us all in danger. I’m grateful for the strong collaboration between the Office of Attorney General and our local law enforcement partners to keep the people of Columbia County safe.”
The charges are the result of an investigation initiated by the Scott Township Police Department and referred to the Office of Attorney General. In May 2019, police responded to reports of shots fired near the home of the defendants. Investigation revealed that Lester Armstrong was in possession of a firearm and discharged the firearm multiple times.
Armstrong is prohibited from possessing a firearm and had been denied a permit to carry by the local Sheriff’s Department. Further investigation found that Brooking purchased the four firearms in the house and that Armstrong had given her money and instructed her to buy the firearms for him on three separate occasions.
The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. All charges discussed are accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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