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Press Release

Raleigh Man Sentenced for Illegally Possessing Firearm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

NEW BERN – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced KEENAN JOSHUA BYRD, 23, of Raleigh, NC, to 48 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

BYRD was named in an Indictment filed on May 22, 2019 charging him with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon on January 10, 2019.  On August 21, 2019, BYRD pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. 

According to the investigation, on January 10, 2019, the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) responded to the parking lot of a restaurant in Raleigh to investigate a report of an individual sleeping in a vehicle.  The officer located BYRD sleeping in the driver’s seat of the running vehicle with the front wheels of the vehicle stopped on the curb, almost in contact with the restaurant.  The officer also observed a pistol on the front passenger seat.  Other officers responded, secured the vehicle and firearm, and woke BYRD up after several attempts.  As officers spoke to BYRD, the officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from BYRD’s person.  Officers seized a .40 caliber pistol loaded with 1 round of ammunition in the chamber and 7 rounds of ammunition in the magazine.  A spent round of ammunition and an open beer were recovered from the floorboard of the driver’s seat.  Officers determined that BYRD was a convicted felon.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.  For more information about Project Guardian, please see:  

This case is also 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.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina implements the PSN Program through its Take Back North Carolina Initiative.  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 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Raleigh Police Department conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Daniel William Smith represented the government.

Updated January 10, 2020

Project Safe Neighborhoods