DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Alabama

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 21, 2017
Jay E. Town
, United States Attorney
Contact: Contact: Peggy Sanford

Federal Judge Sentences Prior Felon to 10 Years in Prison for Possessing 31 Guns

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Birmingham man to 10 years in prison on separate counts of being a convicted felon in possession of firearms, including a 2016 incident in which police recovered 31 firearms after he barricaded himself and three other people inside a house to avoid arrest.

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives announced the sentence.

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn sentenced WILLIE LEE COOKS, 46, for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm on April 4, 2016, and multiple firearms on August 30, 2016.

“Cooks was a threat to the community, to his victims, and to law enforcement,” Town said. “Violent felons who possess firearms will not get diversion. They will not get probation. They will get a cell in the Bureau of Prisons.”

Birmingham Police stopped Cooks on April 4, 2016, for driving a vehicle without a license plate and arrested him on an outstanding felony warrant after seeing a Glock 9mm pistol on the floorboard, according to Cook’s plea agreement. The pistol was loaded with 31 rounds of ammunition in an extended magazine. Cooks had several prior felony convictions at that time, according to his plea agreement.

On Aug. 30, 2016, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency task force approached Cooks’ Birmingham residence to arrest him on a warrant, and Cooks barricaded himself and others in the house, according to his plea agreement. A Birmingham Police SWAT team was called to the scene and tear gas was deployed to get the occupants out of the house after negotiations for Cooks’ surrender failed, according to the plea agreement.

Police subsequently found the 31 firearms hidden in a crawl space under the house.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney L. James Weil Jr. prosecuted.

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Field Division: Nashville Field Division