Indianapolis man sentenced for shooting during George Floyd protests

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comments from Ross’ defense counsel.

In August of 2020, Tyrone Anthony Ross was sitting in the Marion County Jail facing a Level 4 felony charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon when a pair of FBI agents arrived to talk to him about a shooting.

Monday, one year and 10 months after that jailhouse interview, Ross, 30, was in the Southern Indiana District Court pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was subsequently sentenced to five years in federal prison and three years of supervised release.

The defendant was also prohibited from owning, possessing or having access to a firearm.

Ross was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2021 for shooting across Ohio Street at about 11:15 p.m. on May 30, 2020, when the thoroughfare was filled with vehicles and pedestrians protesting the murder of George Floyd.

“Following the murder of George Floyd by police, many peaceful and law-abiding protesters took to the streets in downtown Indianapolis and all over the country to express their outrage and heartbreak. With utter disregard for the lives of everyone present, an illegally armed felon fired multiple shots in this crowded area,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Zachary A. Myers said in a press release following Ross’ sentencing. “Today’s prison sentence demonstrates that armed criminals who risk the lives of the public will face serious consequences.”

Thomas Brodnik, attorney at McNeely Law LLP, was appointed as Ross’s defense counsel. He was presenting an oral argument at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals when the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the sentence.

Contacting Indiana Lawyer later, Brodnik, said Ross suffers from untreated mental health issues stemming from an abusive childhood. Noting the sentence was below the recommended guideline of 77 months to 96 months, Brodnik said his client wants to receive mental health treatment and is “willing to take advantage of the programs” available in the federal Bureau of Prisons.

According the U.S. Attorney Office’s factual basis filing, Ross was standing with a small group on the corner of Ohio and Pennsylvania streets in front of the Birch Bayh Federal Building during the May 2020 protests. He was wearing gray sweatpants, a black sweatshirt and black high-tops and a black knit cap. He also had a red mask covering his nose and mouth.

During the interview with federal agents, Ross identified himself in photos and told the law enforcement officials he had been holding a sign that read “No Justice, No Peace.” Ross then blamed his brother for the shooting, telling the agents the confrontation was ignited when someone yelled “F— Justice!”

However, the U.S. attorney pointed to surveillance video which shows the shooter was Ross. He pulled a Hi-Point .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun from underneath his clothing and fired at least four rounds across the street toward Yolk Restaurant. Ross then ran west on Ohio Street, raised the handgun straight in the air and first at least one additional round, according to court documents.

Court documents do not indicate where Ross got the gun or if he possessed the gun legally.

At the time of the May 2020 shooting, Ross was on probation apparently for a 2019 incident for which he pleaded guilty  to leaving the scene of an accident with bodily injury, resisting law enforcement and possession of a synthetic drug or lookalike substance.

In May 2021, he pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession charge. He was sentenced  to two years in the Indiana Department of Correction, three years in the Marion County Corrections home detention component and two years suspended to probation.

According to the DOC offender data website, Ross’ projected release date on the unlawful possession charge was February 2022. The sentencing order states Ross was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

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