For Immediate Release
Armed Career Criminal Sentenced to 15 Years
MADISON, WIS. - Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Royal Powell, 36, Janesville, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Conley to a mandatory minimum 15 years in federal prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Powell pleaded guilty to this charge on March 20, 2019. His prison sentence will be followed by four years of supervised release.
On August 17, 2018, Powell exited a BP gas station in Janesville and fired a gun at a group of people standing a short distance away. In response to the gunfire, someone shot back at Powell and the bullet went into the gas station and nearly struck a woman and her small children standing inside. Powell fled the scene but police officers identified him using surveillance video from the gas station. Powell was arrested in Janesville a few weeks later and officers found the firearm used in the shooting hidden in his apartment.
Powell is prohibited from possessing firearms because he has previously been convicted of multiple felony offenses in Rock County, Wisconsin, and Cook County, Illinois, including arson, residential burglary, and substantial battery. As a result of these violent convictions, Powell is classified as an armed career criminal and is subject to the mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years. Furthermore, Powell was on Wisconsin state supervision for three separate felony convictions at the time of the shooting.
In sentencing Powell, Judge Conley took into account his lengthy criminal history, which included not only violent crimes but also drug offenses. Judge Conley stated that Powell’s decision to shoot the firearm while at the BP station needlessly endangered innocent lives.
The charge against Powell has been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address violent crime.
The charge against Powell was a result of an investigation conducted by the Janesville Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron Wegner and Diane Schlipper.