Independence Man Indicted for Illegal Firearm

Independence Man Arrested in Home Invasion Indicted for Illegal Firearm

(STL.News) An Independence, Mo., man who was arrested when he was engaged in a home invasion robbery was indicted by a federal grand jury today for illegally possessing a firearm.

Theodore Watkins Jr., 31, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed on May 13.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, Independence police officers were called to a residence at 11:25 a.m. on May 12 by a neighbor who reported that he saw Watkins push his way into the residence of an elderly woman. The caller said they thought they observed something in the man’s hand when he forced entry.

Officers arrived at the residence and established a perimeter. A SWAT unit and hostage negotiators also arrived, and after making announcements on the loudspeaker, the victim came out of the residence through the front door. A short time later, Watkins came out of the residence and was taken into custody.

The victim, whom the affidavit says was visibly shaken and had bruising on her right arm, told investigators that Watkins originally came to her door and offered to mow her lawn. He came back a few minutes later, she said, and forced the door open, forcing his way into the residence. Watkins pointed a loaded Sig Sauer 9mm handgun at her and said, “Where’s the money?”

Watkins dumped out her purse and took the money from it, the affidavit says, then began going through her dresser drawers, closets, and other areas of the house. He used her cordless phone and her cell phone to make calls, including a call to his wife. When police arrived, the affidavit says, Watkins hid his gun in a furnace return air vent in the bedroom. Police officers found the firearm when they searched the house.

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Watkins has two prior felony convictions for robbery, two prior felony convictions for burglary, two prior felony convictions for armed criminal action, and prior felony convictions for drug trafficking, kidnapping, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The charge contained in this indictment is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stefan C. Hughes. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department.

Project Safe Neighborhoods

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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.

SOURCE: USDOJ.Today