MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Cody Walker-Nelson, 31, of Duluth, Minnesota was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Conley to 10 years in prison for attempted bank robbery and possession of firearms as a felon. Walker-Nelson pleaded guilty to those charges on May 24, 2022.
On October 1, 2021, Walker-Nelson engaged in a series of dangerous crimes in Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth. In Duluth, he stole two cars and led police on several high-speed chases. In Superior, he robbed a residence, stole three handguns and four long guns.
Walker-Nelson then attempted to rob the upper branch of the Associated Bank. He stopped at the drive-thru window, knocked on the window to get the cashier’s attention, took a firing position, and pointed one of the stolen handguns at her. The cashier quickly moved out of sight and Walker-Nelson fled the area by driving against the current over the Bong Bridge to Duluth.
Once back in Duluth, Walker-Nelson attempted to steal an off-duty police officer’s car, but drove off when confronted by the officer. He then stole a wallet from two people and fired a gun in their presence. Then he went to an apartment building where he was surrounded by law enforcement and SWAT teams. Walker-Nelson discharged one of the stolen handguns several times during the confrontation, including shooting and disabling a law enforcement drone.
Eventually tear gas was used and a SWAT team forced the front door down, at which point Walker-Nelson fired a bullet through the bedroom door. Walker-Nelson retreated to a large safe in the bedroom where he attempted to start a fire using a propane canister. After his arrest, officers found numerous bullet holes in the apartment, including one that went through the front door and into a neighboring apartment.
Walker-Nelson is a felon, has been in jail and has prior convictions for theft of firearms, burglary, felon in possession of a firearm, assault and violation of a domestic violence restraining order.
At sentencing, Walker-Nelson said he was a drug addict who was unable to stay sober during the pandemic that led him to commit these crimes. Judge Conley was unhappy with this and said it only partially mitigated the offence, as Walker-Nelson had already had treatment options. Judge Conley said he should sentence Walker-Nelson based on the seriousness of his conduct and the risk of reoffending in the future, and that the sentence was intended to hold him accountable and protect the community. Judge Conley described the federal case as a drug-induced criminal rampage across Superior and Duluth consisting of multiple violent and invasive offenses that endangered specific individuals and the community as a whole.
Judge Conley sentenced Walker-Nelson to 10 years in prison followed by 3 years of probation. This jail term was ordered concurrently with the pending and related cases in Superior and Duluth.
The charges against Walker-Nelson were the result of an investigation by the Superior and Duluth Police Departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan.
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 all. . On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a Violent Crime Reduction Strategy strengthening the NSP based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community organizations that help prevent violence, establishing targeted and strategic strategies implementation priorities and measurement of results.