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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
Roger B. Handberg, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 12, 2023

Fort Myers Felon Convicted for Unlawfully Possessing Loaded Rifle

Fort Myers, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that a federal jury has found Javonte Keyon Whitfield (25, Fort Myers) guilty of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a previously convicted felon. Whitfield faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. Whitfield had been indicted on February 9, 2022.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, shortly before 1:30 A.M. on May 14, 2021, officers from the Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD) were alerted to multiple gunshots near the intersection of Linhart Avenue and Evans Avenue in Fort Myers. While investigating the origin of the gunfire, the officers spoke with an occupant of a duplex on Evans Avenue, who denied hearing any gunshots and claimed that he was alone in the residence with his three young children. Shortly thereafter, in direct contradiction to what he just told officers, six adult males—including Whitfield—and three young children exited the residence. Officers observed that one of the men was suffering from a gunshot wound, and EMS was summoned. When the residence was later searched, FMPD personnel located seven unsecured firearms, dozens of rounds of ammunition, and cocaine. From under the bed in one of the two bedrooms of the residence, FMPD recovered a loaded NORINCO SKS rifle equipped with a high-capacity magazine. Subsequent forensic analysis of that firearm determined that a latent fingerprint lifted from the metallic bayonet of the rifle belonged to Whitfield, a previously convicted felon who had been released from prison less than five months earlier. As a previously convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Fort Myers Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Simon R. Eth and Patrick L. Darcey.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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