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Girlfriend accused of purchasing guns for robbery suspect killed in officer-involved shooting

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- 30-year-old Latonya James of Milwaukee has been charged with furnishing a firearm to an unauthorized person, after investigators say she purchased guns for Burt Johnson, an armed robbery suspect who was shot and killed by Milwaukee police officers last Thursday night, May 5th.

Latonya James

Latonya James

This is called a "straw purchase" -- when someone purchases a firearm legally, and gives it to someone prohibited from having one.

"There is very little deterrent in current law to keep people from buying guns for their friends or boyfriends. We`ve got to give scared girlfriends permission to say no by having a tough law," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.

James made her initial appearance in court in this case on Wednesday, May 11th.

Cash bond was set at $2,500, which was posted.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 19th.

According to the criminal complaint, the guns were purchased on Friday, April 8th at Gander Mountain in Germantown.

The shooting of Burt Johnson happened after police say Johnson robbed the O'Reilly Auto Parts store near 73rd and Mill Road on Thursday evening, along with Gregory Rounds.

O'Reilly Auto Parts

O'Reilly Auto Parts

Police spotted Johnson and Rounds as they exited the store, and a foot pursuit ensued.

The complaint indicates Rounds eluded capture, as Johnson fired numerous shots at the officers.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said at the scene Thursday night that one of his officers was shot in the chest, but his life was saved by his ballistic vest.

According to the complaint, when the officers returned fire, Johnson suffered numerous gunshot wounds and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

Burt Johnson

Burt Johnson

An investigation has revealed that during the armed robbery at the O'Reilly store, Johnson was armed with a "Springfield .45 caliber pistol." Investigators obtained the serial number, and a trace of the weapon revealed it was purchased on April 8th at Gander Mountain on Commerce Circle in Germantown by Latonya James.

The complaint states that James purchased a second firearm at the same time -- a Smith & Wesson M&P .40 caliber pistol.

James was interviewed by police on May 6th at her workplace in New Berlin.

According to the complaint, James said Burt Johnson had been her boyfriend -- and she admitted to purchasing the two firearms and giving those weapons to Johnson.

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

Investigators say James initially said Johnson offered to buy her a gun and took her to Gander Mountain. When they got to the store, Johnson handled numerous firearms and instructed James to buy two guns. James said Johnson gave her the money to buy the guns. James said Johnson also had her purchase ammunition.

The complaint indicates James told investigators a couple days after purchasing the guns, she went back to Gander Mountain to pick them up, and then went over to Johnson's home and gave them to him.

James said she "knows she should never have given the guns to Johnson," according to the complaint.

The complaint indicates investigators were able to obtain video from the Gander Mountain store showing the purchase of these firearms. The video shows Johnson and James arriving at the store together, and looking at guns together. After the firearms were selected, James can be seen in the video filling out paperwork. At the checkout, James and Johnson were both seen providing money for the purchase.

A check with the DOJ revealed James picked up the firearms from Gander Mountain on April 8th at 8:15 p.m.

73rd and Mill

The complaint makes reference to the fact that Burt Johnson was prohibited from possessing firearms at the time of the transfer of the firearms from James to Johnson because he was a convicted felon -- convicted of burglary in 2009 -- so this was a "straw buy," where a person purchases firearms for an individual who cannot purchase them himself.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm addressed this "straw buy" on Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee.

"This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, in 2008-2009 we had six Milwaukee police officers who were shot," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Chief Flynn said more than 700 guns have been taken from criminals so far this year, and in 85 percent of the crimes, guns are purchased legally and then given to a felon.

Chisholm said lawmakers can make a small change to stiffen the penalty for straw purchasers.

"Why not make it a felony in Wisconsin for putting false information down. So what it basically says is, if you buy a weapon, you have to say 'it`s for me,'" Chisholm said.

Data pix.
Data pix.
Data pix.

Chief Flynn said the officer who was shot in this case is doing well and anxious to get back to work. Flynn said the bullet struck his body armor, and said it was like being hit by a baseball bat.

Google Map for coordinates 43.134049 by -88.002220.


  • Jim Smith

    Investigation complete, charges filed. So far the system is working. Charge her with robbery and the death of her boyfriend, logic dictates that he would not of robbed the store or been in position to be killed if she had not bought the guns.
    I believe an earlier article stated they got away with about $400 from the place they robbed. They spent at least twice that amount on the two firearms.
    Senseless death.


    Many will think that I am wrong. Gander Mt. should also be charged in a big way. As blatant display of a straw purchase as possible. Would have thought that they would have had some civic responsibility.


    Let sue Gander Mountain for every gun they sell like Badger guns, it’s all about gun control. If she passed a background check, it’s good to go, unless she knew he was a felon, and how is the gun dealer going to know that, guns aren’t the problem, liberals and felons are the issue here.

    • Berry

      OH cmon! This was obviously a straw buy. He was looking and handling the guns at the store but would ask his girlfriend to buy the gun for him. All of this happening in front of the sales associate. The lady is an idiot and so is the sales associate. Its common sense it was a straw buy and Gander MT shouldnt have sold it. This ruins it for every gun owner who purchase their guns legally.

  • Jones

    I see this everyother time I’m in a gun store. Usually a group of guys (2 or 3) come in. One guy ,probably the guy with a clean record buys a firearm while the others hover right behind him. They all walk out together. I would bet the firearm is then handed off to the person who couldn’t legally purchase one. I have seen this numerous times. Maybe I am wrong but isn’t the store able to refuse service If they suspect something suspicious? I guess they would rather make a sale rather than turn down a customer.

  • Tom

    I have no intention of singling out black gun buyers. If a white person does this, they should be denied the sale as well. My concern is that, after they were obviously shopping together, after he was the one testing guns, and after he supplied money at the register for thr purchase…no one in the store questioned thr possibility it was a straw purchase. I honestly don’t care what race or ethnicity a person is…if they put my gun rights at risk by being irresponsible, then I expect them to be held accountable.

  • Mark

    I can’t believe all the backlash at the store for this. Other than the store clerk simply asking them ‘ is this gun for you or the person that is with you, what else would you think they could possibly do? Deny selling her the gun, so that later that evening we see a huge protest with signs decrying racism because they refused to sell to a black customer that had the funds to purchase it? As long as she tells them the gun is for her I don’t see what else they can do but ring her up.


    All common sense is gone. I am all for guns. I own several. A guy comes in with a woman to buys guns. (plural) He picks them out then physically gives her the cash at the checkout line. It is not a race thing at all. Simple logic can see what is going on. If I want a new gun I will buy it. Not in my girlfriend’s name. Selling guns takes on a responsibility that Gander Mt. does not take seriously. The Humane Society can deny giving you a dog. I think it should be a right of gun sellers to deny a sale. The person that buys for others should then be charged with same crime that was committed with said gun. Just simple logic to protect us law abiding citizens.

    • Carol

      I was at a Gander Mountain in Franklin when a couple were looking at the guns and the female wanted to buy it. The clerk obviously became suspicious and stated he needed the ID of both to run them as they were very much together. The male party was a convicted felon and the couple was denied the purchase. Isn’t that the way all stores should/could handle this problem?

      • Angry Dad

        Makes more sense than doing absolutely nothing when an obvious straw purchase is happening.

  • Maximus Aeurelius Trollus

    Stupid girls like thugs and then make thugs with thugs and little thugs grow up to be thugs.

  • cannibal

    Sad that the da and police chief would lie about the laws whwn purchasing firearms. I believe one of the first questions on the form is if you are the end user, correct? And you sign and date it too! So they are blatently lieing! There are penalties too for straw buys, but someone has to actually prosecute!

  • Jim Smith

    Maybe Gander Mountain should of realized that this was a straw purchase, but everyone of us know that if they denied the purchase the buyers would have pulled the race card. Maybe not this time, maybe not this buyer but it would happen. Should gun dealers be shielded some way from idiotic accusations and be allowed to deny a buy if things don’t seem “right.” Maybe.
    IMHO a .45 is a lot of gun for most women, and that should of been a red flag. When I look at fire arms, I am particular about who I deal with behind the counter and my wife stands clear while I do my thing.
    I know if I was behind the counter and a couple of people came in looking at guns and the one handling the gun the most was not the one filling out the paperwork it would raise some serious red flags for me. For me it is like Nicholas Cage said in Con Air, “There’s two people in the world I trust, I’m one and you ain’t the other.”
    I know that pro-gunners (I am one) won’t like this but maybe when someone goes into a gunshop they present a firearms card before they can handle a gun.

  • Mayor McTrolley and Chief Wiggum are useless!!!

    Why don’t they just execute “violent” criminals to begin with!! Our LIBTARD justice system keeps mommycoddling these POS criminals and letting them back on the street for violent offenses,no wonder there is a high crime rate. Better yet,ban all LIBTARDS(start with Chief Wiggum,Mayor McTrolley, from the state and I guarantee you crime will go down greatly,since they commit most of the crime anyways!!

  • Klaatu

    Race has nothing to do with this. You have two PEOPLE looking at guns.
    No.1 and No.2 looking at and handling the guns.
    No.1 fills out the paperwork for the purchase as No.2 looks on.
    No.2 pulls out money and gives it to NO.1 in front of sales staff, and then No.1 pays the store.
    ……..It’s pretty obvious to me……….

    • Mom

      there should be a point when the buyer the lady or just the buyer should be taken to the shooting range and asked to show how they would go about firing the gun… have watched 80 year old Grandma’s with walkers buying weapons that if they tried to use would have thrown them on the ground.. If the buy is afraid of the weapon cannot hold or fire the weapon.. the sale stops right there and if in the exchange of funds for the weapon happens stop the sale and the person with the money become liable for filling out paperwork if they refuse end of sale of weapon… would help a little ..


    Because this story is about guns, I see Fox 6 doesn’t delete ANY comments, liberals are tricky, but not smart.

  • sparkles

    What we call this is common sense. Questions should be asked, What are your intentions ? N o young lady and her black boyfriend are not going hunting. Trust me. They are just idiots that and they were unpin the peaceful community having fun. Perfect Target!

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