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Teaching assistant buys guns, fatally left dog in car: feds

A Georgia teaching assistant abandoned his dog in hot car while buying guns on behalf of a convicted felon, federal prosecutors say.

A Georgia teaching assistant abandoned his dog in hot car while buying guns on behalf of a convicted felon, federal prosecutors say.

A teaching assistant abandoned his dog in his car for over an hour as temperatures rose higher than 95 degrees while he bought guns for another man at a Georgia pawn shop, federal prosecutors said.

The former school paraprofessional, 34, of Woodstock, Georgia, is accused of illegally buying nearly four dozen guns for the other man, a 54-year-old from Kingston, Jamaica, with the man’s money between February 2022 and June 2022, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

The other man, who prosecutors said is an “undocumented alien” previously deported from the U.S. after he was convicted of attempted murder, is accused of trafficking firearms the teaching assistant bought on his behalf. He distributed guns to other people, with at least two of the weapons used in shootings in Connecticut, according to prosecutors.

The pair’s gun trafficking “crime spree” came to an end when the teaching assistant left his pet inside his car outside of a Jonesboro pawn shop on June 15, 2022, prosecutors said. According to an indictment, he bought nine guns at Arrowhead Pawn Shop that day.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confronted the man and saw the dog “suffering from extreme heat stress,” according to prosecutors.

Clayton County animal control officers responded and tried saving the man’s pet, but the dog died as a result of being abandoned in the car, prosecutors said.

On Sept. 20, the teaching assistant was sentenced to four years and two months in prison after he was previously convicted of conspiracy to make false statements to a federally licensed firearm dealer, the attorney’s office announced in an Oct. 10 news release. It’s unclear where the man worked as a teaching assistant, as prosecutors didn’t provide details of his prior employment.

He pretended to be the “actual purchaser” of the guns he bought for the other man in the metro-Atlanta area, according to prosecutors, who said he “sometimes illegally purchased up to 17 firearms a week.”

McClatchy News contacted a federal public defender representing him for comment on Oct. 10 and didn’t receive an immediate response.

In a sentencing memorandum submitted on his behalf, his public defender, Takiya J. Wheeler, wrote “his financial struggles led him to where he is today” and that he’s “deeply remorseful for his actions and has accepted responsibility.”

The other man was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison on Aug. 2 after he was convicted of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, conspiracy to make false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer, and reentry after deportation, according to the attorney’s office.

McClatchy News contacted a defense attorney who represented that man in the case and didn’t receive an immediate response.

“Firearms traffickers fuel gun violence in our communities placing citizens at risk of injury and death,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement.

Woodstock is about 35 miles northwest of Atlanta.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article280362929.html Teaching assistant buys guns, fatally left dog in car: feds

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