Felon arrested in sale of gun used in McNair murder

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Federal officials have arrested a convicted murderer for providing the gun later used to kill former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested 33-year-old Adrian J. Gilliam, Jr. at his home in LaVergne on Friday on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Jim Cavanaugh said, “A convicted felon cannot receive it, possess it, buy it, store it, hold it, shoot it, aim it, clean it, can’t do anything with it.”

The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Gilliam made his first appearance in Federal Court Friday afternoon, where the judge informed him of the charges he is facing.

Sahel Kazemi
McNair’s girlfriend, Sahel Kazemi

The judge told Gilliam that, depending on his prior criminal history, he could face a maximum of life behind bars.

Chief Ronal Serpas of the Metro Police Department said, “If you remove this from the McNair tragedy, this is still a felon trafficking a weapon on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee in contradiction to federal law.”

Gilliam was convicted in 1993 of second degree murder and attempted armed robbery in Dade County, Florida, for which he received sentences of 15 years and 17 years, respectively.

He was released in April 2002, after serving just nine years behind bars.

Gilliam’s court-appointed attorney, Hugh Mundy, spoke with the media briefly after the four-minute court proceeding Friday.

“We don’t deny that this is a tragedy and a lot of lives have already been ruined but as I’ve said, my client’s a good man and I see reason to ruin his [life], especially after he’s been exceptionally cooperative thus far,” he said.  “Obviously, he could not foresee what was going to happen in this case.  We don’t have any comment about the substance of those charges right now.”

Mundy said Gilliam has a two-year-old daughter and should be released pending his trial.

Metro police detectives first interviewed Gilliam at his LaVergne home July 5 after tracing the nine millimeter pistol found underneath the body of McNair’s 20-year-old girlfriend Sahel Kazemi to him.

The gun was originally purchased from a Nashville pawn shop in January 2002 but sold to Gilliam about a year and a half ago.

Dave & Buster's
Sahel Kazemi bought gun outside Dave & Buster’s

In their interview with Gilliam, detectives confirmed Gilliam had sold the gun to Kazemi for $100 in the parking lot outside the Dave & Buster’s where she worked two days before McNair’s death.

Metro police later ruled his death a murder-suicide with Kazemi responsible.

Kazemi and Gilliam reportedly met when she was trying to sell her car.

She mentioned to him that she was looking to buy a gun and he told her he had one for sale, police said.

“Today’s arrest exhibits great investigative work by the Metro Nashville Police Department, TBI and ATF,” Cavanaugh said.  “Now in custody, Gilliam faces federal prosecution for his involvement in this tragic case.”

“Once the details of Gilliam’s Florida convictions were confirmed, we all agreed that federal prosecution was clearly in order,” Chief Serpas said.  “The very close relationship between our officers, ATF agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in prosecuting convicted felons with firearms is vital to the safety of Nashville’s families.”

Gilliam will be back in court next week for his preliminary hearing when Mundy said he will fight for his client’s release.

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