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Indiana man charged with illegal transfer of gun found on suspect in Chicago cop slaying

A mourner wipes away tears while waiting for an evening vigil to begin for Chicago police Officer Aréanah Preston outside the 5th District police station on May 9, 2023. Preston was fatally shot after ending her shift early on May 6. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

CHICAGO — An Indiana man was arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging he illegally sold a pistol to a friend in Illinois that was later found in possession of one of the suspects in the slaying of Chicago police Officer Aréanah Preston.

Corey Gray, 21, of LaPorte, was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court with one count of illegally transporting a firearm over state lines.

He was arrested at about 6 a.m. in LaPorte and made his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth Jantz, who ordered him held in custody pending a detention hearing Monday.

Dressed in gray athletic shorts and a white T-shirt, Gray answered “Yes, ma’am,” when asked if he understood the charges, but otherwise did not speak during the 10-minute hearing.

Though the 9 mm Glock pistol Gray is accused of transporting to Illinois was found on one of Preston’s alleged assailants, it has not been identified as the gun used to kill the officer, according to the five-page criminal complaint.

Preston, 24, was shot and killed as she returned to her Avalon Park home from a late-night shift on May 6. According to Cook County prosecutors, Preston was walking from her car to her home while still wearing her police uniform when three assailants jumped out of a stolen sedan and ran toward her. One of them opened fire, killing her on her front lawn.

Prosecutors later charged four teens in connection with the slaying: Trevell Breeland, 19, Joseph Brooks, 19, Jakwon Buchanan, 18, and Jaylan Frazier, 16.

The group had gone on a violent crime spree before attacking Preston, prosecutors alleged. They are facing murder charges as well as a slew of other felonies, including robbery and arson, and have been held without bond.

According to the federal complaint Wednesday, the Glock 17 found in possession of one of the suspects had been purchased from a licensed dealer in Valparaiso in April 2021 by a licensed dealer who is a relative of Gray’s, who told authorities he’d given the firearm to Gray shortly after buying it.

In an interview with agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Gray allegedly admitted he took the Glock from Indiana to Chicago sometime in late 2021 and sold it to an acquaintance he knows as “Lil’ Pooh” for $1,200, according to the complaint.

That person died April 9 in Chicago, according to the complaint, which did not state the cause of death.

On May 7, the same Glock was found in the possession of one of the four suspects arrested in Preston’s slaying, the complaint stated. The charges identified the suspect only as Individual C.

The charges against Gray were unsealed on the same afternoon mourners gathered at Preston’s funeral, recalling her as a rising star with an enormous personality and warm smile.


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