A 21-year-old Vermont man is facing federal charges that he purchased a handgun that was found less than 24-hours later at the scene of a shootout in Springfield, Massachusetts, that resulted in the deaths of two men.
Cameron Yee, of South Burlington, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of making a false statement when buying a handgun. He appeared in federal court in Burlington on Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty and was ordered detained pending further proceedings.
Yee’s attorney declined comment.
Court documents say Yee falsely stated on federal forms used when purchasing firearms that he was the actual purchaser of the firearm.
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“In truth, as Yee admitted to police, he had been given $2,000 to purchase two handguns by a person Yee knew as ‘Jay’ with the understanding that Jay would receive the .40 caliber weapon,” prosecutors said in a motion for detention filed in federal court. “Yee admitted he understood Jay wanted the weapon because Jay was in a disagreement with another person over the treatment of Jay’s sister. Yee admitted learning that Jay had been shot and killed shortly after Yee supplied Jay with the gun.”
Less than 24 hours after the purchase, Springfield police recovered the gun bought in Vermont next to Andre Yarns, who was bleeding from gunshot wounds and later died. Prosecutors say Yarns and another man found at the scene, who also died, had been involved in a shootout.
Prosecutors did not specifically say if the man Yee knew as “Jay” was Yarns.
Phone records show that Yee and Yarns, who was not legally able to buy a firearm due to his criminal history, had been in regular communication in the days before Yee bought the gun.
It’s not the first time that firearms purchased in Vermont on behalf of others have been used in crimes in Massachusetts.
Between September 2017 and March 2018 two Boston men moved to Swanton, Vermont, where they brought drugs from Massachusetts and exchanged the drugs for cash or guns. Drug customers would buy the firearms on behalf of the two men.
Five of the guns were recovered by police in the Boston area and some were matched to shootings in South Boston.
Both of the Boston men were later sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
In that case five Vermont drug customers were later charged with buying about 30 firearms for the two Boston men.