BURLINGTON — A South Burlington man is behind bars after authorities say he illegally bought two handguns — one of which was used less than 24 hours later by a suspected drug dealer in a double homicide shootout in Massachusetts, records show.
Cameron Yee, 21, of Dover Street, is facing a charge of making false statement during the purchase of a 40-caliber Glock at Dattilio’s Guns & Tackle in South Burlington on Oct. 11, officials said.
The 40-caliber Glock was used the next morning by Andre “Jay” Yarns Jr., 32, of Springfield, Mass. in a shootout at an apartment on Main Street in the Indian Orchard section of his hometown, records show.
Justice Kirkland, 32, also of Springfield, Massachusetts, died at the scene when city police arrived about 4:10 a.m. Oct. 12, officials said.
Yarns was taken to Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was later pronounced dead.
Authorities said early indications show the two men had fired at each other through an apartment door. Springfield Police said the victims were known to law enforcement and the shooting was targeted.
The Springfield case still remains open as investigators try to sort out more details of the shooting and who else was present, officials in Massachusetts said Thursday.
While dealing with the store clerk at Dattilio’s, Yee maintained verbally and on a written purchase form that the handgun was intended for him, but Yee knew he had been provided $2,000 by a disqualified person to buy two handguns, court records show. Yee, who attended South Burlington schools, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Burlington to the single gun charge on Wednesday afternoon.
The whereabouts of the second firearm bought by Yee, believed to be a 9-mm handgun, remains unknown, officials said. Yee claimed to police the gun had been stolen.
Magistrate Judge Kevin Doyle ruled Yee was a danger to the community and needed to be held pending trial. Doyle cited in his written order the weight of the evidence, Yee’s lack of stable employment and his history of alcohol or substance abuse.
Yee is detained at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans Town.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Drescher maintained there were no known combination of conditions that would protect the public. Drescher said in court papers authorities understand Yee had recently undergone substance abuse treatment. The prosecutor noted if Yee had been a user of cocaine at the time he bought the two handguns that would constitute another federal offense beyond his current charge.
Drescher’s detention motion reported Yee admitted to police he had been given $2,000 to purchase two handguns by a person he knew as “Jay,” with the understanding that Jay would receive the .40-caliber handgun. Yee admitted he understood Jay wanted the weapon because he was in a disagreement with another person over the treatment of Jay’s sister, Drescher wrote.
When questioned by investigators, Yee admitted learning that Jay, later identified as Yarns, had been shot and killed shortly after Yee supplied Jay with the gun, officials said.
The gun was next to Yarns when he was found bleeding from gunshot wounds received during the Springfield shootout, Drescher said.
Telephone records confirm Yee and Yarns had been in regular communication in the days preceding Yee’s acquisition of the Glock. Yarns was not able to legally purchase a firearm because of his criminal history, including an out-of-state domestic assault conviction, records show.
Additional phone data indicates that Yarns was a source of crack and powder cocaine for Yee and another member of Yee’s family, Drescher wrote in his detention motion.
Police found evidence of drug trafficking on Yee’s cellphone, including a text with Yarns on Oct. 10, records show. Yarns advised Yee that Yarns had supplied “the ball i had for u” to another member of Yee’s family, the motion said. It said after Yee expressed dismay, he asked Yarns, “Do u have any soft”?
Drescher said the term “ball” commonly refers to an eighth-of-an-ounce quantity of crack cocaine; the term “soft” refers to powder cocaine.
The veteran prosecutor in the detention motion said Yee’s dangerousness was easily seen because he was prepared to acquire a .40-caliber Glock handgun for a source of cocaine who was in a beef with another person.
If convicted, Yee faces up to 10 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The arrest was based on an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Vermont and Massachusetts, and the police in South Burlington and Springfield, Massachusetts.
Winooski Police arrested Yee on Nov. 7 on an aggravated domestic assault charge stemming from a claim by his ex-girlfriend that he had used both hands to choke her, court records show. Winooski Officer Nathan March said police responded about 9:35 p.m. to an apartment on East Allen Street for a domestic complaint. The woman was having trouble catching her breath and said Yee had used both hands on her neck, March said in a police affidavit.
Yee was later lodged on the assault charge at the prison in St. Albans Town pending his arraignment in state court.