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Port Arthur felon guilty of federal firearms violation after shooting dog

BEAUMONT, Texas – A Port Arthur man has pleaded guilty to a federal firearms violation in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei on Wednesday.

Lou Arrington Welch, 32, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a prohibited person today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn.

“The fact that Welch would shoot an innocent animal speaks not only to his depravity, but also to his dangerousness.  As a felon with a cruel heart, he is exactly the kind of person that should not be permitted to possess a firearm,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.  “Getting guns out of the hands of prohibited persons makes all of us—including man’s best friend—safer.”

According to court documents, on Dec. 29, 2020, Port Arthur Police responded to a call reporting gunshots and the shooting of a dog.  When police arrived on scene, officers discovered the wounded dog and learned from the dog’s owner that Welch had previously threatened to shoot her dog.  While officers were at the scene, Welch drove past, and officers unsuccessfully attempted to flag him down.  Officers followed Welch in a marked unit and attempted to pull him over.  However, Welch accelerated, and a chase ensued.  Police eventually managed to stop and arrest Welch.  Police recovered a pistol from the car, and Welch admitted to officers that he had shot the dog.  Further investigation revealed Welch had previously been convicted of felony drug violations in Jefferson County.  As such, Welch is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition.  The dog ultimately survived its injuries.

Welch was indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 3, 2021.  He faces up to 10 years in federal prison.  The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Port Arthur Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Grove.