Today Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Upper Dublin Township Police Chief Francis Wheatley announced the arrest of Tamir Hartsock, 23, of Glenside, on numerous felony charges related to the straw purchasing and trafficking of 15 firearms, four of which have been recovered and connected to multiple homicides and other violent crimes in Philadelphia through NIBIN fired cartridge casing (FCC) leads.
The investigation into Hartsock’s suspected illegal firearms activities involved multiple agencies including the Montgomery County Detective Bureau’s Violent Crimes Unit (VCU), the ATF, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force, Upper Dublin Township Police, Marple Township Police and Philadelphia Police. The investigation began in April 2023 after Philadelphia Police recovered firearms from people not allowed to possess a firearm and those guns were linked back to purchases by Hartsock, which is indicative of straw purchasing and gun trafficking.
The investigation found that Hartsock purchased his first two guns on Sept. 9, 2020, less than a month after his 21st birthday, and then continued buying handguns through December. At one point, he bought seven handguns in a four-month period. Of those 15 firearms he purchased, only four have been recovered, meaning 11 are still unaccounted for.
The tenth firearm purchased by Hartsock—a Glock, Model G27, .40 caliber, semi-automatic purchased on Feb. 19, 2021—was recovered by Philadelphia Police on April 28, 2023, at the scene of a triple homicide at 5957 Palmetto Street. A bullet taken from the body of one of the deceased was entered into NIBIN—the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network—which generated a NIBIN lead. That lead was then was confirmed by Philadelphia Police through a ballistic comparison finding that the bullet came from the Hartsock-purchased Glock. A NIBIN lead was also generated that linked the same gun to a shooting that two months earlier on Jan. 23, 2023, at 3670 W. Indian Lane.
The first firearm Hartsock purchased on Sept. 9, 2020—a Glock, Model 22, .40 caliber, semi-automatic handgun—was recovered on Sept. 6, 2022, by Philadelphia Police when they heard approximately 50 shots fired in the Carlisle Street area. Police stopped a fleeing vehicle and apprehended the three occupants, one of whom was in possession of the Glock and was arrested on firearms charges. The FCCs from this gun were entered into NIBIN, which generated NIBIN leads connecting the gun to four violent crimes in Philadelphia. These leads are still in process of being visually compared by the Philadelphia Police:
January 15, 2021 – shooting at 5043 Greene Street, with no victims on scene;
August 4, 2021 – shooting at 3652 Germantown Ave., where police found four victims with
August 19, 2021 – homicide at 5104 Germantown Ave., where one person was killed and
five others were shot;
May 30, 2022 – homicide at 1543 W. Erie Ave., where one man was found dead, and more
than 25 FCCs were recovered on scene from three different guns.
Two other firearms purchased by Hartsock were also recovered—one on June 26, 2021, during a DUI checkpoint in Philadelphia (the driver was charged with DUI and firearms violations) and one on Oct. 7, 2022, during a traffic stop by Marple Township Police (both the driver and the passenger were arrested on firearms charges).
The majority of Hartsock’s gun purchases were made online, then, as required by law, the firearms were shipped to a federally licensed firearms dealer in Montgomery County, who completed the required forms and background check to complete the transaction.
“This defendant and his trafficking of firearms to violent criminals, including murderers, shows just how dangerous straw purchases are and what a danger they are to public safety,” said DA Steele. “Gun traffickers like Hartsock are enabling violence and murder. Law enforcement at all levels—local, state and federal—are committed to partnering to stop the illegal sales of guns. And we have seen through this case that the use of the NIBIN machine and database can make a huge difference in tracking firearms and the violence committed with them.”
Hartsock was arrested on charges of Unlawful Sale/Transfer of a Firearm, Dealing in the Proceeds of Unlawful Activities, Corrupt Organizations, Conspiracy, Unsworn Falsification, and Criminal Use of a Communications Facility. He was arraigned today before Magisterial District Judge Jay S. Friedenberg, who set bail at $500,000 cash. The defendant was unable to post bail and remains in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.
A preliminary hearing is in the process of being scheduled. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Samantha Arena.
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