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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
Thursday, September 7, 2023

Fort Myers Felon Headed Back to Prison for Unlawfully Possessing Loaded Rifle

FORT MYERS, Fla. – U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell has sentenced Javonte Keyon Whitfield, 25, of Fort Myers to four years and nine months in federal prison for possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon. The court also ordered Whitfield to forfeit the firearm and ammunition possessed during the offense. Whitfield had been found guilty by a federal jury on May 11.

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, FMPD 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 had just told the officers, six adult males — including Whitfield — and three young children exited the residence. Officers observed that one of the men who exited the residence was suffering from a gunshot wound, and EMS was summoned. During a later search of the residence, FMPD personnel found seven unsecured firearms, multiple high-capacity magazines, dozens of rounds of ammunition and cocaine. FMPD recovered a loaded NORINCO SKS rifle equipped with a high-capacity magazine from under the bed in one of the two bedrooms of the home. 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 approximately five months earlier. As a previously convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.

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.

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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon R. Eth and Patrick L. Darcey.


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