MUNCIE, Ind. — The Delaware County Sheriff's Office is trying to figure out how a murder suspect got a gun months after a judge ordered officers to seize his guns.
The man is now accused of shooting and killing his neighbor.
Cy Alley was arrested Tuesday and accused of murder. Deputies report a person taking a walk around noon told officers they saw Alley shoot 59-year-old Jerald "Gary" Copley on County Road 500 North.
Police report finding a 12-gauge shotgun shell at the scene and later finding a Winchester 12-gauge pump shotgun in the back of Alley's black Ford F250 truck.
13 Investigates reviewed court filings and found a judge declared Alley was dangerous back on Feb. 7. Court records show there was an order for officers to seize two long guns and a short gun. Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hoffman told 13 Investigates deputies took the three guns during the first week of January. Hoffman reports those firearms are still in the sheriff's department property room.
"After Feb. 7, he should absolutely have been prevented from obtaining a firearm, you know renting purchasing receiving, possessing one," said Indiana University law professor Jody Madeira.
The purpose of the Jake Laird Law, Indiana's red flag law, is to confiscate and prevent dangerous people from obtaining guns.
Delaware County prosecutors utilized the red flag law shortly after Alley's father petitioned for an order for protection. The petition stated Alley "threatened to use his guns" and 'put a bullet in his (father's) head.'"
The protective order was issued Jan. 27. Two days before the protective order was issued, the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office started the red flag law proceedings. The court record shows Alley was deemed dangerous on Feb. 7.
"This prosecutor did exactly what he was supposed to do," said Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings.
But the law was still not enough to stop the killing of Copley, who lived a few hundred feet from Alley.
Officers said Alley reported having trouble with his electricity and "assumed that the victim was hacking into his network." Deputies wrote in court documents that Alley told them he went to Copley's house to confront him and shot him four times.
The Delaware County Sheriff's Office told 13 Investigates it's trying to figure out how Alley got that shotgun.
Madeira said even with that red flag determination, there are some loopholes in the law. The first is that a defendant can still buy a gun up until the point he or she is deemed dangerous.
While the law should prevent a dangerous person from buying a gun from a licensed firearms dealer, it's not foolproof. Cummings said Alley could have borrowed the shotgun, stolen it or bought it from someone who doesn't have to do a background check, like a private seller.
"I think the red flag law is not a panacea," Cummings said. "It doesn't cure the problem. It helps us take reasonable steps to try to keep weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them."
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