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Press Release

Whatcom County Woman Sentenced for Providing Felon Access to Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Son was Prohibited from Possessing Firearms; Fatally Shot by Police after Stand-off with Shots fired at Officers

          A 66-year-old Whatcom County, Washington woman was sentenced to three months home detention and two years of supervised release today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for aiding and abetting the possession of firearms by her son, a convicted felon who was prohibited from possessing firearms, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  JEANNE TINKER-SMITH repeatedly went with her son and purchased firearms and allowed him to have access to the firearms despite knowing that her son had a felony conviction.  Tragically, TINKER-SMITH’s son was fatally shot by police after he fired on them in November 2014.  A jury in U.S. District Court in Seattle found TINKER-SMITH guilty following a three-day trial in September 2016.  At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik told her, “The decisions you made are part of the reason your son is not here right now.”           

            “It is critical that we enforce our gun laws and keep firearms out of the hands of convicted felons in order to protect public safety, said U. S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  This tragic case is a reminder that it is against the law for any of us to help a prohibited person get a firearm – even if that person is someone we are close to.”

            According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, TINKER-SMITH purchased five firearms between August and November 2014.  TINKER-SMITH was accompanied by her son Cecil on multiple occasions.  Cecil was prohibited from possessing firearms because he had a felony conviction.  On November 16, 2014, TINKER-SMITH and her son went to a firearms store seeking to purchase a handgun.  She was unable to complete the purchase because she did not have a concealed weapons permit.  Shortly after the trip to the gun store, one of TINKER-SMITH’s neighbors reported Cecil was firing a gun in an unsafe manner.  When law enforcement arrived, Cecil ignored commands to drop the weapon and began a stand-off with law enforcement officers.

            During the stand-off, TINKER-SMITH made various statements to the officers – in one she denied her son was in the house.  When the SWAT team ultimately entered the house, Cecil fired at officers and was killed when officers fired back.  One police officer was grazed but not seriously injured.  Multiple firearms were found in the house, in locations where Cecil had access to them.

            The case was investigated by the Bellingham Police Department and the Washington State Patrol.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Woods and Senngjae Lee.

Updated December 9, 2016

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