Public Safety

Judge sentences Elgin man to two months in federal prison for having gun while using drugs

4-year-old boy finds gun and fatally shoots himself

(File photo) Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
(File photo) Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

An Elgin man convicted of illegally having a gun while being a drug user, a circumstance which resulted in a 4-year-old boy finding the weapon and fatally shooting himself, was sentenced last week to two months in federal prison.

Daniel Henriksen, 29, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last September to one count of possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of controlled substances — marijuana.

U.S. District Chief Judge Leonard Strand said during the hearing that the nature and circumstances of the offense was “horribly tragic,” but varying downward from the sentencing guideline range of six to 12 month was appropriate because Henriksen lacked criminal history and there was lack of evidence to show he knew there would be children in his home that day.

Henriksen’s lawyer argued for the lesser sentence based on his lack of criminal history.

Strand also ordered Henriksen to serve three years on supervised release following his prison time.

Court documents show Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies and emergency responders came to Henriksen’s home in Elgin after receiving a 911 call June 17. Once at the residence, they found the child with a gunshot wound to his head.

The child — identified as Jayden Choate of Fort Atkinson — was taken to Palmer Lutheran Hospital in West Union, where he later died, according to court documents.

Jayden found the gun in Henriksen’s mobile home, where the child was taking a nap, the search warrant affidavit shows. The firearm was a Glock 36, a .45-caliber handgun.

Deputies said the boy, his mother, his 3-year-old brother and 4-month-old sister were visiting the residence. The boy’s mother and another person were sitting on the deck while the children were inside the trailer.


Henriksen admitted in the plea agreement to owning the gun and also admitted to being a drug user and had smoked marijuana in his home the night before the shooting.

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