News and Press Releases

Defendant Shot at Witnesses who Followed Him Outside After Gunshot in Restroom

June 10, 2009

CHARLES JAMES WILLIAMS, 29, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today to 120 months in prison and three years of supervised release for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and a concurrent sentence of 150 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Possession of Crack Cocaine with Intent to Distribute. WILLIAMS was convicted of the gun charge in March 2008, following a three day jury trial. Just over two months later, in May 2008, WILLIAMS pleaded guilty to the crack cocaine charge arising out of a separate incident. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez determined that WILLIAMS qualified as a “Career Offender,” resulting in a high guidelines range on the drug charge. Judge Martinez noted that WILLIAMS “has been involved in committing nothing but crime since he was 15-years-old.”

According to testimony at trial, WILLIAMS and his girlfriend arrived at the Whiskey Bar at Second and Virginia in Seattle, shortly before midnight on May 13, 2006. WILLIAMS went into the men’s room and moments later bar staff and patrons heard a gunshot. The bar’s bouncer went in the bathroom and saw WILLIAMS, the only person in the bathroom, fumbling with a handgun. Another employee saw WILLIAMS leaving the bathroom mumbling “That was crazy.” ‘A bullet was later found lodged in the wall of the restroom. WILLIAMS left the bar and the bouncer, bartender, dishwasher and a bar patron followed, while calling 9-1-1 on a cell phone. At Third and Virginia, WILLIAMS again fumbled with the handgun, saw the group tracking him on the other side of the street, and fired one shot in their direction. After firing the shot, WILLIAMS ran south on Third Avenue, and discarded the handgun, a 9mm semi-automatic Ruger, at Third and Pine. Seattle Police Officers chased down, and after a brief struggle, arrested WILLIAMS.

WILLIAMS has prior convictions in Washington for Cocaine Possession (2002), Felony Harassment (2002), and prior convictions in Florida for Robbery with a Deadly Weapon (1997) and Carrying a Concealed Firearm (1997). The convictions prohibit WILLIAMS from legally possessing a firearm.

The conviction for possession and distribution of crack cocaine is for an arrest in May 2005, for dealing crack cocaine in downtown Seattle. WILLIAMS was found to have 34 individually wrapped rocks of crack cocaine.

In asking for a long prison term, Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Colasurdo described WILLIAMS’ lengthy criminal history “his past is filled with crimes involving drugs, firearms, and violence. This is Williams’ fifth drug related conviction and fourth firearm-related conviction.... What is most alarming about Williams’ criminal past is the pace at which he commits his crimes.... There has never been any significant break in his criminal behavior since he turned 14 years old.”

WILLIAMS was taken into federal custody in October 2007, from the state prison system where he was already doing time on unrelated cases. WILLIAMS completed those state sentences in January 2009, so that will be the start date for his 150-month federal sentence.

WILLIAMS was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in King County-- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Colasurdo, and Assistant United States Attorneys Mary K. Dimke, Aravind Swaminathan and Roger Rogoff. Mr. Colasurdo is a King County Deputy Prosecutor Specially Designated to prosecute gun crimes in Federal Court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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