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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 28, 2020

Waterloo Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Possessing Gun Following a Shooting

Convicted Felon and Drug User was Prohibited from Possessing Guns

A Waterloo man who possessed a gun as a felon and while being a marijuana user was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison.

Shakur Demir Todd-Ellis, age 22, from Waterloo, Iowa, received the prison sentence following a March 17, 2020 guilty plea to possession of a firearm as a prohibited person.

Information disclosed at sentencing and at his plea hearing revealed that on March 25, 2019, a shooting occurred outside an apartment complex in Waterloo, Iowa.  Two different people fired shots during the incident.  Todd-Ellis was not one of the shooters, but was present during the shootings.  After the shooting, one of the shooters handed Todd-Ellis his firearm and Todd-Ellis went into the nearby apartment complex with it.  Officers surrounded the area and had Todd-Ellis and other occupants of the apartment unit come out.  Officers then searched the apartment unit where Todd-Ellis was located.  Inside the unit, officers located three firearms, including the one Todd-Ellis took from the shooter.  Officers also located multiple cell phone videos of Todd-Ellis holding firearms.  Todd-Ellis admitted he has used marijuana since the 6th grade.  He was also convicted of felony burglary in 2017. 

Todd-Ellis was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Todd-Ellis was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment.  Todd-Ellis was ordered to make payment of $100 to the special assessment fund.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Corkery.  This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) through a cooperative effort of the Waterloo Police Department, Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations Safe Streets Unit, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.  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.

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 20-CR-2009.

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Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated September 28, 2020