Police vehicle

Gang members with ties to Kent shootings receive prison sentences

Each gets four years, six months for illegal firearm possession

Two Seattle men, with ties to violent street gangs in the region and drive-by shootings in Kent, were sentenced to four years, six months in prison for illegal firearm possession.

Sytrel Defranco Butler, 26, and Leo Myron Dickerson, 25, were sentenced July 8 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, according to an U.S. Department of Justice media release. They each also received three years of supervised release.

At the sentencing hearing, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez told the men they need to make different choices, “otherwise your future is being in prison over and over again, or being dead.”

A review of state and federal court records paint a record of men with gang ties who are repeatedly illegally possessing weapons, according to the media release. Butler was prosecuted in King County in 2017, when he came to the attention of Kent Police who were investigating a series of drive-by shootings.

In that case, Butler was shown on video possessing an AK-47 style assault rifle, according to the media release. Butler has been shot twice between 2015 and 2017 and was prosecuted for a retaliatory drive-by shooting in 2015. In 2018, Butler was charged federally with illegal firearms possession. The arrest followed the investigation of a drive-by shooting where an innocent person living next to the target was almost hit and killed.

Dickerson too has been repeatedly caught with firearms. He was prosecuted for two incidents in 2018 where he was caught illegally possessing firearms, according to the news release. The guns were assault rifles and Glocks with extended magazines. By May 2019, Dickerson was back on the streets and implicated in a shooting in Kent. He was arrested in a car that contained a backpack with three firearms. The investigation revealed that one of the guns had been used at a shooting in Kent and another at a shooting in Seattle.

In 2020, Butler and Dickerson had their supervised release revoked due to a video where they were seen with other felons and pictured with firearms. Dickerson was arrested later that year for illegally possessing firearms. Butler was arrested and had his supervised release revoked for drug dealing and firearms possession following a traffic accident in SeaTac.

In July 2021, Butler was investigated in connection with a homicide in Seattle, according to the news release. The case remains under investigation. As part of the investigation, law enforcement monitored the men’s social media. In various posts both Butler and Dickerson were shown with weapons. A warrant was issued for their arrests due to the supervised release violations.

Saltwater State Park arrest

On Aug. 19, 2021, the men were arrested at Saltwater State Park in Des Moines. When law enforcement moved in, the two men threw handguns into the woods near where they were sitting, according to the news release. One gun was a Glock with an extended magazine, and the other was a stolen handgun. In addition to the handguns, two other AR-style pistols were found in a bag near the men, and in one of their vehicles.

“For the last five years, these two men have been repeatedly involved with guns and violence – indeed they have repeatedly documented their firearm addiction on social media,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “The sentences imposed in the past did not stop their criminal conduct. Now, these longer federal prison terms will protect the public. We can only hope the federal prison time will break the cycle of guns and violence and get them to change their ways.”

In their request for a five-year sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court that the “conduct is part of a recidivist pattern of criminal activity during which – for years – Butler and Dickerson consistently have possessed loaded firearms and associated with fellow gang members and felons under dangerous circumstances. Simply put, whenever Butler and Dickerson are not in custody, they possess firearms and revert to associating with the same criminal actors.”

Martinez sentenced Butler to 42 months in prison on the current criminal case, with another year to run consecutive for his supervised release violations. For Dickerson, Martinez imposed two years for the supervised release violations with a consecutive 30-month sentence for the gun possession at Saltwater State Park.

“That was extremely serious,” Martinez said, “Putting others in the community in grave danger.”

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Seattle Police Department and Kirkland Police Department.

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