A Centralia man who allegedly threatened to shoot local police officers is behind bars this
evening. Lashawn L. Wilks, 31, has been charged by federal complaint with unlawful possession of a
firearm by a prohibited person. United States Magistrate Judge Gilbert C. Sison issued the warrant
for Wilks’s arrest immediately after the complaint was filed. Wilks is expected to make his initial
appearance in federal court early next week.
According to the complaint, at 2:55 a.m. on May 23, Centralia police officers responded to
complaints of loud noise at a house party on North Maple Street. When officers approached to
address the noise and multiple cars blocking the road, Wilks reportedly stood in front of a crowd
of roughly 70 people and threatened the officers with physical violence if they came onto his
property without a warrant. Wilks allegedly told one of the officers, “You all come up on my
property there is going to be a shooting. I know my rights. You can’t come anywhere on my property
and do a damn thing, or I will shoot a cop’s [expletive] ass.” Wilks also allegedly told police
that if they tried to arrest him, they would have to shoot him. Officers were reportedly able to
maintain calm with the crowd and avoid a violent incident.
The complaint alleges that in the days following, law enforcement received information from
numerous sources that Wilks had several guns in the house during the party and that he had said he
was going to “kill a cop” and have a shootout with police if the officers attempted to break up the
On May 25, George Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a police officer knelt on his neck
for almost nine minutes while Floyd lay handcuffed face down in the street. This incident has led
to widespread public outrage and ongoing protests across America.
On May 26, Wilks allegedly posted on Facebook, “This is exactly why I told them bitches Friday
night I’ma put a shotgun shell in they ass if they step on my property [without] a warrant or some
form of probable cause….” Officers also allegedly observed other recent posts where
Wilks appeared to threaten violence to police.
On June 2, law enforcement officers were advised that Wilks and others were discussing plans to
organize a protest and then cause a riot in Centralia. Wilks reportedly discussed shooting police
officers and the individuals allegedly created a list of specific officers they planned to shoot.
On June 4, law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at the residence on North Maple Street
and found a 9mm pistol, a rifle, and a 12 gauge shotgun. According to the complaint, someone had
attempted to obliterate the serial number on the shotgun, but it was still visible. The complaint
alleges that Wilks and one other adult were present at the home during the execution of the search
warrant. Wilks allegedly has a prior conviction for domestic battery in Marion County. Federal law
prohibits a person who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
from knowingly possessing a firearm.
“The complaint underscores the complexities faced when responding to civil protests,” said
U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft. “Most people gather at these events to exercise their
constitutional rights and demand that America live up to its promise of equal protection under law.
Those voices need to be heard. At the same time, however, there are those who misuse the protests
and deepen social divisions by engaging in acts of violence.” Weinhoeft continued, “The right of
the people peaceably to assemble is one of America’s most sacred civil liberties, and it must be
protected from those who would corrupt that freedom with violence.”
If convicted of the charge, Wilks faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, three years of
supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
A complaint is merely a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed
to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI and the Centralia Police
Department, with assistance from the Wamac Police Department.