Three individuals linked to the killings of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett and Terre Haute Police Officer Robert Pitts now face federal charges for the illegal purchase and possession of firearms used in those killings.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Josh Minkler announced Monday that Dawn Rochon, 29, Indianapolis, and Tiffany Dean, 33, and Levi Brenton, 20, Terre Haute, have been charged for their role in illegally purchasing and possessing firearms eventually used to kill Pickett and Pitts earlier this year.
Rochon has been charged with eight counts relating to making false statements when acquiring a firearm after she used a fabricated address on her form of purchase. According to court documents and testimony, Rochon illegally purchased the same gun used to kill Deputy Pickett in March. Of four illegal firearm purchases made by Rochon, three of the guns were used in crimes and were recovered by law enforcement.
Dean, who said she purchased a gun for her brother because he was too young to legally purchase it, also faces charges of making a false statement when purchasing a firearm. Her brother, Brenton, faces charges including conspiracy to make false statements when purchasing a firearm, possession of a firearm by an unlawful drug user, and selling/giving a firearm to an unlawful drug user.
Brenton later sold the firearm purchased by Dean to suspected shooter Christopher Wolfe, 21, who killed Pitts in a shootout on May 4.
“The gun used to kill Deputy Pickett and the gun used to kill Officer Pitts were acquired and purchased in violation of federal law,” Minkler said at a Monday press conference. “As a result of that, two men that had no right to possess a gun shot and killed two brave law enforcement officers.”
The U.S. attorney was joined by several public safety leaders, including Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielson and Terre Haute Chief of Police John Plasse. All of the leaders emphasized the need to work as a team among their departments and encouraged the community to join in their efforts.
In January, Minkler introduced Project Safe Neighborhoods, a violence reduction strategy specifically aimed at reducing the number of homicides and non-fatal shootings in Indianapolis and Evansville. Also in January, six assistant U.S. attorneys were assigned to each IMPD District and the Evansville Police Department to prosecute illegal carriers of firearms.
Enforcement of federal gun laws is the cornerstone of the project safe neighborhoods, Minkler said. The goal is simply to reduce shootings.
“The pattern in both cases is crystal clear,” Minkler said. “Illegal purchases of guns, illegal possession of guns, illegal transfer of guns, an underground gun economy, all in violation of laws created by Congress to prevent shootings … The guns ended up in the hands of trigger pullers to kill law enforcement officers.”