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Armed Felons Face Federal Charges Following Capitol Hill Emphasis Effort

Federal prosecutors have indicted two felons on weapons charges after they were arrested earlier this year as part of SPD’s Capitol Hill emphasis patrols. From the US Attorney’s office:

Two men have been indicted for being felons in possession of firearms in two separate incidents in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, announced Acting United States Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  ROBEL SISAY GEBREMEDHIU, 31, and AWAD Y. AYNISHER, 30, both of Seattle were arrested in September and October 2014, as part of the Seattle Police Department’s emphasis patrols in response to community concerns about crime and safety.  GEBREMEDHIU was arrested on September 27, 2014, after witnesses called 9-1-1 reporting a man running down Broadway with a gun. AYNISHER was arrested October 5, 2014, after a security guard alerted police to an impaired driver at a gas station on Broadway.  AYNISHER had a loaded gun in his front seat and an Uzi type weapon in the trunk of his car.  Both men are prohibited from possessing firearms because they each have prior federal felony convictions.

“Convicted felons armed with high powered firearms in busy city neighborhoods are a recipe for disaster,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Hayes.  “I commend the Seattle Police Officers who worked quickly to protect the public and get these individuals off the streets safely.”

“I meet regularly with Capitol Hill residents and business owners and we’ve talked at length about their crime and quality of life issues,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.  “These cases demonstrate that we’re listening carefully and working with our Federal partners to address their concerns.”

Both defendants recently served lengthy federal prison sentences and were on federal supervision at the time of their arrests.  In the prior criminal cases, both defendants admitted distributing drugs as part of a gang known as the East African Posse (EAP).  Both have been in federal custody for violating the terms of their court-ordered supervision  and will be arraigned on these new indictments next week.

According to records filed in King County Superior Court, on September 27, 2014, two Seattle Police bike officers received a report of a man with a gun running south on Broadway just as various clubs and bars were emptying out for the night.  The officers saw a man in clothes matching the suspect’s description in a parking lot, standing behind a truck.  As the officers approached, GEBREMEDHIU dropped what was later identified as a loaded .40 caliber Glock firearm.  GEBREMEDHIU was taken into custody for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

One week later, on October 5, 2014, police officers were monitoring the late night crowd at a gas station on Broadway when a security guard alerted them to a driver who had pulled into the parking lot in a reckless manner.  The officers observed that the driver appeared to have difficulty standing.  When the driver, AYNISHER, returned to his car, he backed up, hitting another car in the lot.  Officers asked AYNISHER to get out of the car, screened him, and arrested him for driving under the influence.  The car was impounded and officers saw in plain view a loaded semi-automatic 9mm handgun on the floor of the driver’s seat.  The officers obtained a warrant, searched the car and found a second firearm – a Cobray M-11 9mm semi-automatic (Uzi type) pistol — in the trunk.

The statutory penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is ten years in prison.  Additional penalties are available to the court for those on supervised release at the time of the new charge.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Greenberg and Andrew Friedman.