3 US Army soldiers accused of illegally selling weapons used in Chicago shootings

©Chicago Tribune

Chicago police recover evidence as they investigate a shooting in which eight people were shot, one fatally, in Chicago's Wrightwood neighborhood on March 26, 2021. - Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

CHICAGO — Three U.S. Army soldiers are accused of conspiring to buy firearms in Tennessee and illegally sell them in Chicago, where the weapons were traced to at least one mass shooting and other gun attacks, according to a criminal complaint filed this week.

Demarcus Adams, 21, Jarius Brunson, 22, and Brandon Miller, 22, members stationed at Fort Campbell in Clarksville, Tennessee, are charged with multiple offenses, including wire fraud, transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident, money laundering, conspiracy and other gun-related counts.

The federal investigation began when Chicago police recovered firearms after a shooting that killed one man and injured seven people just after midnight on March 26 on the Southwest Side. At least two people opened fire at a gathering in the 2500 block of West 79th Street.

Of the weapons recovered at the scene, five were found to have been purchased from dealers in the Clarksville area by Adams, Brunson, Miller and a fourth man who has not been charged, the complaint said.

Federal agents determined that the three soldiers bought about 91 firearms from Tennessee and Kentucky between September and April, according to the complaint, filed Monday.

On April 28, Chicago police and federal agents interviewed Adams, who said that he and his roommate, Miller, would go to gun shops in the area, and Miller would send him money to purchase weapons. Adams said he believed Miller was selling the firearms on the street in Chicago.

Agents searched the men’s cellphones and found conversations between Adams, Miller and Brunson about the firearms purchases, the complaint alleges.

When discussing a trip to buy guns, Miller messaged Adams, “Naw but u got zelle?” — referring to a cash transfer service.

“Nahh just ApplePay and the Cashapp,” Adams responded, according to the complaint.

Miller then responded: “What time you off im about to cashapp you I need you to grab 3 guns the cheapest 17′s 19′s.”

Agents examined messages between Miller and Brunson, and found photographs of firearms along with haggling over prices, according to the complaint.

Brunson sent Miller photos of two weapons, and Miller responded, “I got you like $1200 for both em.” Brunson replied, “1300?”

And Miller sent back: “I think 1250 max but that’s a steal.”

Searches of Miller’s phone also revealed messages exchanged with numbers with Chicago area codes discussing firearm purchases.

Agents searched Adams and Miller’s Clarksville home and found 49 empty firearm cases. The serial numbers were traced to weapons used in a Feb. 2 homicide, a March 11 shooting and the March 26 mass shooting.

If convicted, the men face up to 20 years in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.