DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Byung J. “BJay” Pak
, United States Attorney
Contact: Public Affairs Office

Felon sentenced to federal prison for gun possession

ATLANTA – Kenneth Copeland was sentenced to federal prison on October 22, 2018, for being a felon in possession of a firearm after bringing an assault rifle into the Dunbar Recreational Center Gymnasium.

“Our community centers are designed to be a place where the public—especially our children—can safely play and gather together,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “By bringing a loaded assault rifle into the gymnasium, Copeland put all those present in danger and took from the community its sense of safety.” 

“The illegal possession of a firearm is a crime in itself” said Arthur Peralta, ATF Special Agent in Charge. “However, taking a firearm into a place where children are present and leaving it in plain view, recklessly endangering everyone, is shocking.  In this case, a concerned citizen saved the day and the defendant is no longer in a position to endanger anyone else.”

“There’s no place on our streets for guns to be in the hands of convicted felons, and certainly no place for guns of any kind to be in a place that’s supposed to be a safe haven for so many of our children,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. “This is great teamwork by our officers and the U.S. Attorney's Office to once again assist us in getting dangerous and irresponsible individuals out of our communities.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: On April 28, 2015, Copeland came to the Dunbar Center Gymnasium with a loaded assault rifle in a shopping bag.  Despite the presence of approximately 20 members of the public, including children, Copeland left the assault rifle on the bleachers and went to play basketball. A concerned citizen called 911 to alert law enforcement that the assault rifle was inside the gymnasium.  Atlanta Police Department officers arrived, detained Copeland, and successfully secured the loaded assault rifle.  Copeland was convicted of multiple felonies prior to April 28, 2015, and as a result, he is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.

Kenneth Copeland, 27, of Atlanta, Georgia was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to five years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Copeland pleaded guilty to one count of a felon in possession of a firearm on July 25, 2018.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Atlanta Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine I. Terry and Kim Dammers, Chief of the Organized Crime and Gangs Section, prosecuted the case. The Fulton County District Attorney’s office and the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office also provided assistance with the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail) or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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Field Division: Atlanta Field Division