Arrest in fatal shooting leads to huge gun bust

April 12, 2012 3:04:41 PM PDT
The arrest of a gang member back in February in the fatal shooting of a taxi driver led to a huge gun bust in Suffolk County.

Juan Rosario was just trying to make a living when he was lured to a dead end block in Copiague, robbed, and then executed.

Now a year and a half later, investigators have hunted down Barry Yorke, the gang member they say not only killed Rosario but also trafficked in illegal guns.

"I'm telling you right now, these are bad, bad people," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Spota refers to Yorke and six other men as death merchants, part of a pipeline weapons purchased legally in the south and making their way to the hands of hardened criminals.

Just like those criminals, each of these guns has a pedigree of its own.

The gun used to kill Rosario had been purchased legally in Georgia.

"This gun was not only used in the commission of that murder, it was used in two other shootings in Suffolk County. Two other people were shot by this particular gun," Spota said.

Thursday, Spota called on Congress to enact tougher federal gun laws, to help stop the practice known as straw purchasing.

In fact, on the very same day, Juan Rosario's family was mourning his loss in Copiague, Eyewitness News reporter Jim Hoffer aired his undercover investigation, demonstrating how easy it is to buy a gun in Virginia, and import it back north.

Just this year, eight city cops have been shot with legally-purchased southern guns.

And in Suffolk County, the police commissioner calls it a "war zone".

Police Commissioner Ed Webber says new gunshot sensors deployed in December detected gunfire 517 times in about three months.

On average, that's more than five incidents a day in places like Huntington Station, where Anna Stack has lived in the same house since 1946, and now is terrified to walk out the door.

"I feel unsafe. I'm afraid to go to the store. You don't know when you're going to get shot," Stack said.

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