Trigger Man in Wilmington Funeral Home Shooting Sentenced to More Than 19 Years for Drug and Gun Charges
NEW BERN — The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced Ezriel Pagan, 41, of Jacksonville to 100 months’ imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release. On October 18, 2018, Pagan pled guilty to three counts: possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of a firearm by a felon.
The evidence established that at around 2:00 a.m. on February 18, 2018, officers of the Jacksonville Police Department responded to a shots fired call at Hooligans Pub & Music Hall in Jacksonville. Officers learned from a Hooligans security guard that a man in a red Nissan had fired a gun multiple times in the parking lot before fleeing down Dewitt Street. Officers were able to intercept the vehicle and arrest its driver and sole occupant, PAGAN. Under the driver’s seat, they found a Colt .380 caliber handgun. Investigators later found four matching shell casings in the Hooligans parking lot.
Two days later, detectives learned that PAGAN had made suspicious statements during jail calls to his girlfriend. During the calls, PAGAN urged his girlfriend to recover his impounded car because he had some “baby food” in it. The girlfriend agreed that she would need to recover the car if it held something that could get PAGAN in trouble. In response to this conversation, and understanding “baby food” to be a reference to narcotics, detectives obtained a search warrant for the still-impounded car. Under the driver’s side dashboard, they located two plastic bags of heroin, as well as small amounts of marijuana and hydrocodone.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Since 2017, the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Jacksonville Police Department, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh represented the government.