A man who pointed a personally-made firearm, also known as a ghost gun, at a woman and threatened to kill her pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
Ronnell Dontae Butler, 26, of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty to felon in possession of ammunition.
According to court documents, an argument had escalated between Butler and a woman when he pulled a loaded gun from the waistband of his pants, pointed it in the direction of the victim, and threatened to kill her. He did so while in the presence of a four-year-old child.
The victim was able to move to the kitchen at one point where she dialed 911, allowing dispatchers to listen to what was occurring and at times whispering to the 911 operator that Butler was threatening to shoot her. When Tulsa police officers arrived, Butler was unarmed but officers quickly located a personally-made firearm in the child’s pink backpack. The firearm was loaded with 10 rounds of 9mm ammunition. The firearm used in the crime is known as a “ghost gun”—an unserialized and personally-assembled firearm built using a parts kit. The crime occurred on Nov. 1, 2021.
In April, the Department of Justice announced that it had submitted to the Federal Register the “Frame or Receiver” Final Rule, which modernizes the definition of a firearm. Once implemented, this rule will clarify that parts kits that are readily convertible to firearms are subject to the same regulations as traditional firearms. The Department noted that the regulatory updates would help curb the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are often assembled from kits, do not contain serial numbers, and are sold without background checks, making them more difficult to trace and easy to acquire by criminals. An April 11, 2022, White House fact sheet explained that the “rule clarifies that these kits qualify as ‘firearms’ under the Gun Control Act, and that commercial manufacturers of such kits must therefore become licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver, and commercial sellers of these kits must become federally licensed and run background checks prior to a sale – just like they have to do with other commercially-made firearms.”
The FBI and Tulsa Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cymetra M. Williams is prosecuting the case.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. PSN is the nationwide federal initiative to disrupt gun violence strategically and comprehensively, using all available enforcement and prosecutive tools. The initiative involves a partnership of federal, state, and local authorities, uniting their efforts and leveraging existing and new resources. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partners tailor their efforts to meet their own district’s unique needs, helping ensure the safety of communities in the Northern District of Oklahoma.