INDIANAPOLIS – Wesley Cartwright, 39, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
According to court documents, on January 5, 2022, deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department attempted to serve an eviction notice to Cartwright at his residence in Indianapolis. Cartwright refused to exit the residence. After more than five hours of Cartwright refusing to come out, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers arrived to assist. Officers observed lights on inside the residence and believed Cartwright may still be inside. Officers were informed that Cartwright is a convicted felon and that he may be in possession of a firearm.
Law enforcement officers obtained warrants to allow them to arrest Cartwright and to search for firearms inside the residence. IMPD officers communicated sporadically with Cartwright over the phone, but Cartwright indicated he had no intention of cooperating with the police and that he wasn’t going back to prison.
IMPD SWAT deployed a drone into Cartwright’s residence and observed that he was armed with two handguns. Cartwright hit the drone with his hands knocking it to the ground and then fired several shots inside the residence. As SWAT officers launched chemical munitions through the window, Cartwright began firing multiple rounds at the officers. IMPD SWAT moved armored vehicles toward the residence and Cartwright began firing at the officers again. He directly pointed a firearm at one of the officers and shot down a second drone.
After 12 hours of continued negotiations and Cartwright still refusing to exit the residence, IMPD SWAT entered the residence and took Cartwright into custody. Cartwright was found wearing a ballistic vest. Police seized two loaded handguns from inside the residence.
Beginning in 2009, Cartwright has sustained five previous convictions for felony offenses including intimidation, battery by means of a deadly weapon, theft and dealing narcotics. Under federal law, anyone who has been convicted of any felony offense is prohibited from possessing firearms.
“Every day, law enforcement officers serve their communities at risk to their own lives. Recently, and far too often, we have seen the tragedies that can result when police working to protect the public encounter illegally armed, violent criminals,” said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Prosecutions of violent repeat offenders are critical to our efforts to stem the tide of gun violence. The serious federal sentence imposed for these crimes demonstrates that we will work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to protect our communities and to hold armed and dangerous criminals accountable.”
“The defendant chose to violently confront police officers who legally came to his home to serve an eviction notice, all while already being prohibited from possessing firearms due to his previous criminal history,” stated Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “IMPD and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office handled this situation professionally and brought the defendant into custody without injury to any civilians or officers, for which we are all grateful. When we talk about removing violent individuals from our communities, this is exactly what we mean, and ATF will continue to work with our law enforcement partners toward this end.”
“In my opinion, the federal enhancement penalty for committing crimes while armed is one of the three most effective tools in fighting crime,” said Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal. “Citizens in Indiana have their rights to carry a gun, but that does not extend to committing a crime while armed. An additional steep price must be paid by those who do so. I thank United States Attorney Zach Myers and his office for the strong position in protecting our community.”
ATF investigated the case in conjunction with IMPD. Invaluable assistance was provided by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge James R. Sweeney II. As part of the sentence, Judge Sweeney ordered that Cartwright be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for three years following his release from federal prison.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jayson W. McGrath who prosecuted this case.
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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.