WASHINGTON – Donald Willis, 50, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 12 years in prison for assaulting multiple family members attending a housewarming party with an AR-15 rifle and handgun, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and Robert J. Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Willis pleaded guilty in July 2022, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. He was sentenced by the Honorable William W. Nooter. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, on the evening of Nov. 26, 2021, Willis attended a housewarming party in the 2300 block of Chester Street SE with numerous people, including children. Over the course of the evening, Willis got into an argument with another attendee. In the early morning hours of Nov. 27, 2021, after a brief physical altercation outside the residence, Willis retreated to his car and retrieved a handgun. Willis then fired one round at the home while guests filtered back inside. Armed with the handgun, Willis entered the home and began waving it around and threatening to kill everyone inside. Two house guests, including a 15-year-old boy, wrestled the handgun away from Willis. The juvenile then brought the handgun to his room in the basement.
Willis returned to his vehicle and retrieved an AR-15 rifle. Willis then fired the weapon as he walked back towards the home. Once back in the residence, Willis found the 15-year-old boy and pointed the AR-15 at him as he demanded the return of his handgun. Willis then made his way upstairs, where he pointed the AR-15 at three additional houseguests who were hiding in a closet. Officers with the Metropolitan Police Department arrived on the scene and observed Willis leaving the home with the AR-15 in his hands. Officers gave several commands to drop the gun, but Willis ignored their commands and continued to walk toward his vehicle. Officers fired several shots as Willis dropped the AR-15 in the street and fled from the scene in his vehicle. While fleeing, Willis struck a police car before abandoning his vehicle and fleeing on foot. Willis was arrested on Nov. 27, 2021. He has remained in custody ever since. No one was injured by the shots that Willis fired.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Graves and Chief Contee commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Platt, Danielle White, and Yasmin Emrani.