MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Cody Walker-Nelson, 31, Duluth, Minnesota was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Conley to 10 years in prison for attempted bank robbery and possessing firearms as a felon. Walker-Nelson pleaded guilty to these charges on May 24, 2022.
On October 1, 2021, Walker-Nelson engaged in a dangerous crime spree in Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth. In Duluth, he stole two cars and led police on several high-speed chases. In Superior, he burglarized a residence, stealing three handguns and four long guns.
Walker-Nelson then attempted to rob the Superior branch of Associated Bank. He pulled up to the drive-through window, knocked on the window to get the teller’s attention, took up a firing stance, and pointed one of the stolen handguns at her. The teller quickly moved out of sight and Walker-Nelson fled the area driving against traffic across the Bong Bridge to Duluth.
Once back in Duluth, Walker-Nelson tried to steal the car of an off-duty police officer but left when confronted by the officer. He then stole a wallet from two people and fired a gun in their presence. Next, 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 standoff, including shooting at and disabling a law enforcement drone.
Ultimately tear gas was used and a SWAT team forcibly breeched the front door, at which time Walker-Nelson fired a round through the bedroom door. Walker-Nelson retreated to a large safe in the bedroom where he attempted to start a fire using a canister of propane. After he was taken into custody, officers found numerous bullet holes in the apartment including one that traveled through the front door and into a neighboring apartment.
Walker-Nelson is a felon, has been to prison before, and has prior convictions for theft of firearms, burglary, felon in possession of a firearm, assault, and violating a domestic abuse injunction.
At sentencing, Walker-Nelson said that he was a drug addict who was not able to maintain sobriety through the pandemic which led him committing these crimes. Judge Conley was not satisfied with this and said it only partially mitigated the offense as Walker-Nelson had previous opportunities for treatment. Judge Conley said that he had to sentence Walker-Nelson based on the severity of his conduct and risk to reoffend in the future, and that the sentence was meant to hold him accountable and protect the community. Judge Conley described the federal case as a drug-induced criminal rampage through Superior and Duluth consisting of multiple violent and invasive offenses which endangered specific individuals and the community as a whole.
Judge Conley sentenced Walker-Nelson to 10 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. This term of imprisonment was ordered to run concurrently with pending and related cases in Superior and Duluth.
The charges against Walker-Nelson were the result of an investigation conducted by the Superior and Duluth Police Departments, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution of the case has been 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 everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.