DA: Weapon Used To Kill Long Island Toddler In 2018 Murder-Suicide Sold Illegally

Sophia Hall
January 09, 2020 - 3:52 pm

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — The Suffolk County district attorney announced Thursday that the weapon used to kill a toddler in a murder-suicide two years ago was sold illegally at a sporting goods store on Long Island.

In June 2018, 2-year-old Jovani Ligurgo was kidnapped by his father, 43-year-old John Ligurgo III, who set fire to his condo in Coram before grabbing a rifle and taking off with the boy to Virginia, where both were found shot to death inside Ligurgo's vehicle.

Jovani Ligurgo, John Ligurgo III
Suffolk County Police

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said Chester Pergan, the owner of Chester's Hunting and Fishing Store in Ronkonkoma where the gun was sold illegally, faces 69 charges of illegally possessing and selling assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Chester's Hunting and Fishing store in Ronkonkoma
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

"I don't understand how a guy was able to own a shop and sell illegal firearms," Jovani's mother, Maria Busone, said. "It wasn't like he was going it out of his basement, he was literally selling this out of a store on a road that anybody could walk into."

Busone said she's been living a nightmare since the death of her son.

Maria Busone
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

She believes her little boy could still be alive today if that weapon was never sold to her ex-boyfriend.

"If I would have known that gun was illegal, it would have been taken out of my house immediately. That's one thing that really makes me angry, because I could've gotten that gun out of the house," said Busone. "If that weapon didn't exist, maybe this wouldn't have happened."

Long Island gun bust
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

Pergan's attorney Anthony Lopinto says his client had a federal license to sell weapons, but not a state license.

"This isn't some back alley gun salesman. This is a man who is operating a family business for over 18 years," Lopinto said. "We look forward to seeing what the prosecution has in terms of their investigation, their discovery and there's a lot of interested eyes from a number of rifle organizations, gun organizations that are keeping a really close eye on this case for a number of very interesting reasons."

In a news advisory, Sini said Pergan also sold lower receivers without serial numbers, which can be used in the assembly of ghost guns.

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