Steven Cooper, a former Duluth resident and felon, pleaded guilty on Friday in St. Louis County District Court to a charge of felony possession of a firearm. Cooper, now a resident of St. Louis Park, was charged by the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office in July 2022 after he turned in a firearm he found in a vehicle left behind by his deceased brother. The gun was wrapped in a sweatshirt and stored securely in Cooper’s apartment building before he notified his parole officer, who then informed the police.
Cooper, who had previously been convicted of a violent crime as a teenager, had served 13½ years in prison for attempted murder. In 2010, he shot two convenience store clerks during a robbery in Duluth. Both victims survived. Cooper’s attorney, Joseph Vaccaro, indicated that he plans to request probation instead of a 5-year prison sentence during sentencing.
During the court proceedings, an inconsistency arose regarding when Cooper found the gun. While he initially told law enforcement that he found it the night before contacting his parole officer, Cooper stated in court that he found it on the same day he made the call. As a result, Judge Dale Harris ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
The Duluth NAACP has called for St. Louis County Attorney Kim Maki to drop the charges, alleging that Cooper is being treated unfairly due to his race. The County Attorney’s Office responded by stating that they do not make legal decisions based on community pressure or unfounded allegations of racism in charging decisions.
Cooper is scheduled to be sentenced on October 27 in Duluth.