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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Shooting Multiple Rounds at a Graduation House Party Leads to Over Eleven Years in Federal Prison for Dubuque Man

Long Criminal History Includes Convictions for Aggravated Assault, Domestic Abuse, and Transporting Undocumented Aliens

A man who fired multiple rounds from a handgun at a group of people celebrating someone’s graduation was sentenced today to more than eleven years in federal prison.

Norris Wade Culver, Jr., age 34, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison term after an August 8, 2019 guilty plea to one count of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

At the guilty plea, Culver admitted he had multiple felony convictions and domestic abuse convictions.  He further admitted to possessing a handgun on May 17, 2019, in Dubuque.  Information at sentencing disclosed that Culver left his house that night.  He then fired multiple rounds from a .45 caliber handgun towards a duplex across the street.  Numerous individuals were at the duplex celebrating a graduation.  Some of the people were outside.  Others, including at least three minor children, were inside.  Culver did not hit anyone with his shots, but did hit the siding of the duplex with three rounds.  The Dubuque Police Department responded and took Culver into custody. 

Culver has a long criminal history dating back to 2004, when he was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon at 18 years of age.  He then received multiple other convictions, including convictions for aggravated assault, domestic abuse assault, OWI, and attempted burglary.  In 2017, Culver was convicted in federal court of transporting undocumented aliens into Texas.  Culver was in a van that tried to smuggle four people through a border control point.  He was still on supervised release from that case at the time he fired the shots in May 2019. 

Culver was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Culver was sentenced to 110 months’ imprisonment for the new charge of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  He was also sentenced to a consecutive 24 months’ imprisonment as a consequence of violating his supervised release conditions from the federal case out of Texas.  There is no parole in the federal system.  Culver is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also 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 https://www.justice.gov/ag/page/file/1217186/download.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Morfitt and investigated by the Dubuque Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.  Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/.  The case file numbers are 19-CR-1022 and 19-CR-1039.

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Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated January 14, 2020