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Chester woman charged with straw purchase and illegal transfer of guns purchased at a gun show for a convicted felon

Kiarah Strickland

Media, PA – Today Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland announced that Kiarah Strickland of Chester is charged with the straw purchase and illegal transfer of two firearms that she purchased at a gun show, including a .22 caliber Kel Tec semi-automatic firearm, for a convicted felon.

Kiarah Strickland, 25, of the 1100 block of Highland Avenue, is charged with transferring a firearm to a convicted felon, providing false information, tampering with public records, all felonies of the third degree, and other related offenses. The arrest comes following a joint investigation conducted by the Delaware County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Gun Trafficking Unit and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General's Gun Violence Task Force, with assistance from the Chester Police Department.

In May 2018, CID Detective David Tyler initiated an investigation following information he received from Special Agent Robert Burke of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General's Gun Violence Task Force regarding the straw purchase of firearms. On April 21, 2018, Special Agent Burke was working in an undercover capacity at the Philadelphia Armory Gun Show located at 2700 Southampton Road in Philadelphia. He observed two females and three males enter the premises, walk around, and handle various guns. Special Agent Burke observed one of the males give cash to the females and point to several of the displayed firearms. At approximately 3:05 p.m., Kiarah Strickland was observed filling out the paperwork and purchasing a .9mm Taurus semi-automatic firearm. The other female also attempted to purchase a firearm but was denied based on the background check. Strickland was then observed filling out paperwork and purchasing a Kel Tec .22 caliber semi-automatic firearm. After both firearms were purchased, the two females and three males entered a silver Ford Explorer and left the gun show.

On May 2, 2018, Special Agents Burke and Richard Reinhold went to the Chester Police Department and met with Detective Steve Byrne regarding the firearm investigation. Detective Byrne informed the Agents that on April 5, 2018, he had stopped Timothy Hamler driving the same silver Ford Explorer, at which time two firearms were recovered, including one which was stolen, and two subjects were taken into custody.

On May 4, 2018, Attorney General Special Agents visited Kiarah Strickland and asked to see the two firearms she had purchased at the Philadelphia Gun Show on April 21, 2018. She took them to the basement, where Timothy Hammler was present, and retrieved both firearms, handing them to the Special Agents. The serial number on the .22 caliber Kel Tec pistol was obliterated and the .9mm Taurus had scratch marks around the serial number, in an attempt to obliterate the serial number. Both firearms were seized, and Strickland went with authorities to the Chester Police Department for a formal interview.

During the interview, Strickland told authorities that on April 21, 2018, she went to the Philadelphia Gun Show with her sister, Timothy Hamler, an individual named Rob and his friend “Poo,” who was later identified as Byron Oliver. She admitted that Oliver gave her $400 cash to purchase the .22 caliber Kel Tec. She stated they all left the gun show together and that she left the firearms with the four individuals, at which time the illegal transfer took place. CID Detective Tyler ran a criminal history for Bryon Oliver and determined he is a convicted felon and therefore, ineligible to own or possess a firearm.

In Delaware County, the District Attorney’s Anti-Violence Task Force and Gun Trafficking Unit continues to work with local, state and federal authorities in law enforcement to target individuals who illegally transfer and straw purchase firearms. District Attorney Copeland forewarns that those who illegally transfer guns in Delaware County, face up to ten years in prison under the Brad Fox Law.

“In the case of Kiarah Strickland, she willingly traveled to a gun show to purchase a gun for a known felon, showing a complete disregard for the law and the safety of her own community,” said District Attorney Katayoun Copeland. “By doing so, and placing these guns in the hands of a criminal, the defendant now faces felony charges herself, and up to ten years in prison. We commend the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General's Gun Violence Task Force, Chester Police and CID Det. David Tyler for their work on this case. We will continue to aggressively target straw purchasers to stop criminals from obtaining firearms illegally, and work to raise awareness about the severity of these crimes.”

Deputy District Attorney George B. Dawson, Chief of the Anti-Violence Task Force, will be prosecuting the case on behalf of the Commonwealth.

CRIMINAL CHARGES, AND ANY DISCUSSION THEREOF, ARE MERELY ALLEGATIONS AND ALL DEFENDANTS ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNLESS AND UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
DELAWARE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
MEDIA, PENNSYLVANIA 19063
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610-891-4161

KATAYOUN M. COPELAND, DISTRICT ATTORNEY
JOSEPH A. RYAN, CHIEF OF DETECTIVES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: August 3 2018
CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris, 610.891.4252