A veteran New York firefighter has been charged with multiple gun-related crimes after an interstate task force followed him to a gun show in Pennsylvania and arrested him as he was driving home.
The sting is the first publicized action of the new Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, a collaboration between state and federal law enforcement agencies announced by New York Governor Kathy Hochul last month.
When the task force was announced, it was unclear whether agents would be targeting large criminal networks of gun runners or individual gun owners. Now, we know.
Aaron B. Martin, 49, who works for FDNY’s elite Rescue 4 in Queens, was charged with multiple crimes, including felony possession of an “assault weapon,” according to the New York Post.
It’s unclear why agents targeted Martin, but the Post reports that a surveillance team followed Martin to the “Oaks Extravaganza” gun show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center on Feb. 13.
There, they allegedly observed him purchase two Polymer80 receivers, two “high-capacity magazines,” holding more than ten rounds, and one Sipahi semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun.
Agents followed Martin until he crossed the border into New York City and pulled him over in Howard Beach, Queens, on Belt Parkway.
At the time, Martin admitted to purchasing the shotgun but denied possessing any other firearms or gun parts, according to police. Law enforcement seized the gun and parts along with a set of brass knuckles.
Martin does not possess a license to own a shotgun, which is a requirement in New York City.
Martin has been suspended from the Fire Department of New York for 28 days without pay. Along with serving for Rescue 4, he is a chief on the Roosevelt, L.I., volunteer fire department.
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Law enforcement officials have not said why Martin was targeted, and he does not appear to have a criminal history.
When Gov. Hochul announced the task force, she characterized it as a way to stop the “flow of illegal guns.”
“We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to fight the scourge of illegal guns on our streets,” she said. “Too many lives have been lost because of illegal firearms that should never have been on our streets. By convening law enforcement officials from across the region, we can share intelligence and strategies that stem the flow of illegal guns and keep New Yorkers safe.”
The task force brings together ATF agents along with law enforcement agencies from New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.