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Press Release

Armed Career Criminal Sentenced To Over 21 Years In Federal Prison For Being A Felon In Possession Of A Firearm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Austin Wenger, age 26, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 262 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for one count of being a Felon In Possession of a Firearm. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

According to court records, on September 6, 2019, detectives with the Fayetteville Police Department were attempting to locate and arrest Wenger on a warrant related to a shooting he was involved in on September 5, 2019.

During the early morning hours on September 6, 2019, investigators received a tip that Wenger was located at a residence on North Club Drive in Fayetteville. At approximately 7:53 a.m. investigators, confirmed Wenger was inside the residence.  Until approximately 3:40 p.m. on September 6, Wenger barricaded himself inside the residence and refused surrender to law enforcement.  During this period, Wenger spoke with crisis negotiators who informed him that he was under arrest and directed him to release three children from inside the residence.  Investigators spent hours attempting to negotiate with Wenger to release the children inside the residence, but were unsuccessful.  Eventually the three children were released from a back window. 

During the standoff, Wenger posted a live stream video on Facebook wherein he brandished a firearm, which he subsequently discharged on at least two occasions from inside the residence.  One projectile from the gun nearly struck a uniformed police officer stationed outside the home.

During the standoff, Emergency Response Team members used multiple gas canisters and had to breach the door to force Wenger’s surrender, which eventually took place around 3:40 p.m.  Subsequent to his arrest, a search warrant was executed and the firearm Wenger possessed and discharged was located.  In addition, investigators located 6 spent shell casings of .40 caliber inside the residence. 

Wenger has been previously convicted of multiple felonies in state court and is therefore prohibited from possessing firearms.  Under federal law, Wenger is considered an Armed Career Criminal and subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 15 years because he has three prior convictions for violent felony offenses.

Wenger was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020.

This case was prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice=s Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, which is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of firearms and improving the safety of residents in the Western District of Arkansas.  Participants in the initiative include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

This case was investigated by the Fayetteville Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated May 8, 2020

Project Safe Neighborhoods