Cook Prosecuted as Part of “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – Christopher Cook, 38, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court to violating the federal firearms laws by unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition on Jan. 3, 2015, the day he shot and seriously injured Officer Lou Golson of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The guilty plea was entered without the benefit of a plea agreement. At sentencing, Cook faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison unless the court determines that Cook is an armed career criminal. In that event, Cook will face an enhanced sentence of a statutory mandatory minimum of 15 years to a maximum of life in prison.
Cook previously pled guilty in the Second Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico to state charges arising from the Jan. 3, 2015, shooting of Officer Golson, including shooting at or from a motor vehicle (great bodily harm), aggravated battery on a police officer and receiving or transferring a motor vehicle. Cook was sentenced on the state charges on July 10, 2016, to 20 years in state custody.
Cook’s guilty pleas to both federal and state charges were the result of a collaborative investigative effort involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office, ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, APD, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, and New Mexico State Police.
In announcing today’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said, “We cannot and will not tolerate violence against law enforcement officers. Those who seek to harm the courageous men and women who put their lives on the line to safeguard us and protect our communities are, by definition, the ‘worst of the worst’ offenders. The entire law enforcement community – federal, state, county, local and tribal – is committed to working collaboratively to thoroughly and completely investigate these individuals, and the District Attorneys and I are united in our resolve to prosecute them – in both the federal and state judicial systems – to the fullest extent of the law.”
Second Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg said, “The ‘worst of the worst’ initiative is proving to be a very successful, cooperative endeavor between state and federal law enforcement. This partnership is making our community safer.”
“Today’s guilty plea puts another violent felon behind bars where he belongs. We will aggressively enforce the federal firearms laws targeting these criminals,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Field Division of ATF. “That is why we will continue to work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute violent criminals like the defendant in this case.”
“Guns and violent felons are a dangerous mix. When career criminals get their hands on weapons, nobody is safe, including the brave men and women who put on a badge to protect us every day,” said Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI. “The FBI is proud to have worked closely with our partners on this case, and we remain committed to rooting out violent and repeat offenders from our communities.”
“We will never be able to erase the haunting images of Christopher Cook attempting to kill Officer Lou Golson from our minds,” APD Chief Gorden E. Eden, Jr. “We are so very thankful to our law enforcement partners and the ‘worst of the worst’ initiative for ensuring this repeat offender is off the streets and will serve substantial time for his crimes in federal prison.”
Cook initially was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in a criminal complaint filed by ATF on Jan. 6, 2015. The criminal complaint alleged that Cook unlawfully possessed a firearm and ammunition on Jan. 3, 2015, when Cook shot APD Officer Golson during a traffic stop in Bernalillo County, N.M. On March 10, 2015, Cook was indicted on that same charge. According to court records, Cook was prohibited from possessing either firearms or ammunition on Jan. 3, 2015, because he previously has been convicted of at least eleven felony offenses, including two involving attempted aggravated assaults on peace officers.
During today’s proceedings, Cook entered a guilty plea to the indictment. He remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Albuquerque Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Albuquerque office of the FBI, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the New Mexico State Police with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Walsh is prosecuting the case.
Cook is being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution based on their prior criminal convictions with the goal of removing them from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders with significant criminal conviction records from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, under this initiative.