Fifth person shot at UVa identified; malicious wounding charges added

However, when Jones attempted to purchase a $489 rifle, specifically an M&P 15 with a 25-round capacity, in 2021, he encountered a setback due to failing a required FBI background check. Additionally, back in 2018, the staff at Dance’s Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights refrained from selling him a handgun due to his underage status.

As per a statement issued on Wednesday by Marlon Dance, the proprietor of the store, Dance’s Sporting Goods lawfully supplied Jones with two firearms – a Glock and an AR-15 rifle, albeit after a span of seven months.

Law enforcement officials have not explicitly linked the guns purchased at Sporting Goods Dance to the shooting on Sunday, in which three students on a bus were killed.

Within a span of three years, the store purchased and directly used guns in criminal activities, which were then sold. These guns, numbering more than 10, are classified as “2 Letter Demand” and are also listed in the ATF’s store. The store has enough documents to qualify for a conference warning from the ATF staff, indicating their involvement with the agency for several years. Business records from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives suggest that this store has been on the agency’s radar for an extended period.

More recently, the shop was cited in a federal indictment of gun traffickers who had repeatedly visited the store in late 2019.

According to the court documents, Maria Fuentes, a female individual, bought six handguns from the shop on six separate occasions within a span of three weeks, sometimes even on consecutive days. As per the court records, these firearms were later transferred to Jesus Fuentes, who has a criminal record, with the purpose of being sold for financial gain.

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Dealers of firearms often facilitate the procurement of weapons on behalf of others, known as “straw purchases,” by customers with clean criminal records. Although sales deny it, purchasers who seem suspicious can circumnavigate background checks to easily buy guns.

The loophole is not exclusive to Dance’s. Straw purchasing is the most prevalent avenue for the trafficking of illicit firearms.

The smugglers often frequented Dance’s, a store spanning 20,000 square feet, with more than 50 staff members, which was the most popular among the smugglers. Throughout the state, suppliers effectively purchased firearms at Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and nine additional stores, focusing on a variety of Virginia gun retailers, including the incident in 2019.

Since 2017, the ATF’s documentation has faced multiple lawsuits from Brady, a gun control advocacy group that has made the ATF inspection reports accessible. Brady’s records are up to date as of 2018.

In January 2018, Dance’s Sporting Goods was flagged for twice selling receivers to an out-of-state resident, which is illegal under federal law.

The store Dance’s had also failed to fully log personal information about buyers and some gun sales were reported late. The store had sold to out-of-state residents both in August 2011 and in March 2014, as the report shows. Investigators issued a warning letter, noting that the store had violated the same law for the third time.

The ATF found downgraded actions in his store, ultimately leading to a “Warning Letter”, but they also found that he met the criteria for a “Warning Conference”.

The investigating officer stated that the report on the violation was thoroughly discussed. However, they mentioned that the FFL was not aware of the regulation and did not understand it. They added, “We expect future compliance.”

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“Dance informed ATF inspectors that we will cease selling to individuals residing outside of the state and provide training to our staff.”

When asked by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Mike Solomon, the manager of Dance’s Sporting Goods, provided the following statement:

Each transaction was properly recorded and conducted, ensuring the transfer of Mr. Jones’s firearms. The paperwork for each transfer is handled on an individual basis, taking into consideration its own merits. We have implemented processes and conducted significant training to ensure that every inspection is error-free, allowing us to obtain 100% error-free paperwork. Over the past five years, we have strived to improve our paperwork and inspection processes.

Josh Scharff, legal advisor for Brady, stated that based on data published by the ATF, only a small percentage of gun dealers nationwide infringe on enough ATF regulations to warrant a conference.

In 2020, the Bureau’s Washington Division, which covers Virginia, escalated just 12 inspections into conferences out of a total of 184 inspections.

According to Scharff, “They bear the responsibility. Firearms vendors act as guardians of the weapons that exit their establishment and are sold to the general public. The act of selling numerous firearms within a short timeframe is also a cause for concern. In my opinion, there are indications that this vendor may not be fully compliant with the law,” in reference to the ATF infractions and the illegal straw purchases.

The records that Brady doesn’t have available for inspection were later recommended to be inspected by investigators in 2018. It is likely that the shop was inspected again.

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Marlon Dance stated that the store was saddened to learn from the tragic events that took place in Charlottesville and will continue to assist law enforcement in their attempt to make sense of this terrible tragedy.

The board governing UVa held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to receive briefings from law enforcement officials, management staff, and the legal counsel on the investigation and the shootings. Following extensive manhunt, the suspect, who attended Petersburg High School and was taken into custody in Henrico County on Monday, officials have not released any information about a possible motive for Jones.

Solomon stated that the individuals who sold Jones the two guns would not have been aware of his previous attempts to buy firearms.

Solomon stated that we have been deceived and there are highly skilled wrongdoers, further mentioning that the establishment remains watchful regarding purchases made on behalf of others. Solomon also mentioned that either the employees would not have permitted the sale and transfer of firearms or they had no reservations about selling the firearms to Mr. Jones.

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