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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Western District of Washington

For Immediate Release

May 3, 2011

Jenny A. Durkan, United States Attorney

Contact: Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer
(206) 553-4110

Repeat Offender Sentenced to Long Prison Term for Gun Possession

Tacoma Man with Prior Murder Conviction Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison

WYATT ANTHONY BIRD, a/k/a Whacky, 31, of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced Friday April 29, to 96 months in prison and three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. BIRD was arrested in July 2009, for violations of his state probation. Upon Bird’s conclusion of a sentence in an unrelated assault case, BIRD was federally indicted in August 2010 for illegally possessing the gun. He pleaded guilty in January 2011. At sentencing on Friday, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said it was Bird’s own choices that brought him to federal court.

According to records filed in the case, BIRD was taken into custody by a Department of Corrections (DOC) officer in the parking lot of a Tacoma bar on July 24, 2009, for suspected violations of his probation. The DOC officer had responded to radioed requests for backup by the two Tacoma Police Department officers who had been first on the scene. BIRD is prohibited from possessing firearms because he has several felony convictions, including a 1995 Pierce County conviction for second degree murder. Another of BIRD’s convictions, and the one for which he was on probation at the time of his 2009 arrest in this case, was also for illegal gun possession in 2006. In that case, just as in this one, a DOC search of his residence turned up a gun locked in a safe belonging to BIRD.

In asking for a lengthy sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court: Clearly defendant Bird has not learned his lesson from his multiple incarcerations, whether they were a gentle five days or a harsher ten years. Going easy on the defendant this time around will not serve the important goals of promoting his or others’ respect for the law, will not protect the public from future crimes by the defendant, and will certainly not deter him from doing the same thing yet again when he gets out.

BIRD was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level — in this case, in Pierce County — has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Tacoma Police Department, the Washington State Department of Corrections, the South Sound Gang Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory A. Gruber.