An airman has been charged with the unlawful purchase and transfer of a firearm used in a fatal shooting at Grand Forks Air Force Base in June.
Airman 1st Class Julian Carlos Torres shot and killed Airman 1st Class Natasha Aposhian after a verbal altercation in a dormitory on base on June 1, investigators say, adding that Torres then took his own life. Both airmen were members of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing.
Airman 1st Class Daesha Renae Heard has been accused of illegally purchasing the Glock model 22C used in the shooting.
Court documents allege that Torres had repeatedly asked Heard to assist him in purchasing a handgun because he was under the legal age of 21. Torres told Heard that if she “gifted” him the weapon, it would be a legal transfer.
Investigators reported that on May 5, 2020, Heard and Torres went to B&B Guns in Grand Forks, North Dakota, to purchase the weapon.
After viewing multiple firearms, Torres chose the Glock 22C because “he liked the way it looked and liked the fact that it had extended magazine options,” the complaint stated.
Heard told investigators she attempted to buy the firearm after Torres showed it to her but did not have her military orders with her — necessary documentation for non-residents to buy firearms from a federal firearms licensee.
The two returned to the base to retrieve her orders. Heard then entered the gun store alone to purchase the weapon, 30 to 50 rounds of ammunition, and spare magazines including an extended magazine that Torres had requested.
According to the complaint, Torres, who was waiting in the parking lot, paid Heard $500 in cash for the purchase, which the store invoiced at a value of $474.
When required forms asked if she was the actual transferee/buyer of the weapon, Heard answered that she was.
Question 11a. of ATF Form 4473 includes a warning that “You are not the actual transferee/buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person.”
Though firearms can legally be sold in the secondary market, it is illegal to buy a firearm on another person’s behalf regardless of their eligibility.
The Department of Justice’s website states a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm.
Aposhian’s parents claimed the shooting was an act of domestic violence, telling Stars and Stripes that their daughter had ended a relationship with Torres the day before.
“She said, ‘I’m afraid he’s going to kill me, Mom. I feel like I need to get an order of protection,” mother Megan Aposhian said. “She did express that she was afraid of him and thought he was going to shoot her. I don’t know why.”
Aposhian, a 21-year-old from Arizona, worked as an aircraft parts store apprentice and wanted to make a career out of the Air Force, her father told local news. Brian Murray said his daughter graduated from basic training with honors, ranked second in her tech school class, and wanted to do a full 20 years in the Air Force.
“That should be the safest place to be on a US base. And the fact that something like this happened is unforgivable and should never happen,” Murray told Valley News.
The preliminary hearing in the case against Heard is set for August 10.
Harm Venhuizen is an editorial intern at Military Times. He is studying political science and philosophy at Calvin University, where he's also in the Army ROTC program.