Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man sentenced to over 3 years for illegally possessing firearms as drug user

Shooting incidents from 2018 and 2019 added to prison time

Michael Hodges Jr. testifies June 27, 2018, about the Jan. 28, 2018, shooting of Zevon Johnson of Urbandale outside Pub
Michael Hodges Jr. testifies June 27, 2018, about the Jan. 28, 2018, shooting of Zevon Johnson of Urbandale outside Pub 217 in downtown Cedar Rapids. He pleaded to a lesser charge in that shooting. He is now going to federal prison after pleading to being a drug user in possession of a firearm. (Rebecca Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 26-year-old Cedar Rapids man, who sought immunity under Iowa’s stand-your-ground law in a 2018 shooting in downtown Cedar Rapids but never went to trial, was convicted and sentenced in federal court for illegally having three guns as a drug user.

Michael G. Hodges Jr. pleaded Thursday in U.S. District Court to one count of possession of a firearm by a drug user.

During the plea, he admitted to knowingly possessing a handgun — 9 mm pistol — while being a marijuana user on Feb. 6.

Hodges wasn’t charged in the downtown shooting, outside Pub 217 on Jan. 28, 2018, which injured another man, and a shooting outside Woody’s Show Club on March 24, 2019, where Hodges fired shots at a person in a vehicle and was shot himself.

Those incidents showed he possessed guns as a drug user and enhanced his prison time in the firearms conviction.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Hodges to more than three years in federal prison.

Cedar Rapids Police Officer John O’Brien, also a member of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, testified that the downtown shooting in 2018 wasn’t justified.

Hodges and Zevon Johnson of Urbandale, drew handguns on each other simultaneously — duel style — and Johnson was injured.

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In 2018, Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter, after reviewing the surveillance video of the shooting outside the bar, said she believed Hodges, who had a permit to carry a gun, was justified in drawing his weapon and shooting. It was self-defense, and she dismissed an attempted murder charge against Hodges.

Johnson took a plea deal and was convicted of carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor.

According to the video, O’Brien said Hodges lunged forward, and Johnson stepped back, raised his pistol and fired. Hodges then fired within a split second of Johnson’s shot.

Hodges waited 8 hours to call police to report the shooting and then turned in his gun to police, both requirements under the law.

O’Brien also testified about what happened during the Woody’s shooting.

The shooting, as captured on the club’s surveillance video, started with Hodges and others argument outside the club and in a car, O’Brien said. Several shots were fired, and Hodges fired at the vehicle. The Woody’s security guard then fired at Hodges, hitting him in the back.

O’Brien said Hodges, in the video, passed his gun to another man. Hodges then told the security guard he didn’t have a gun when questioned.

On April 5, 2019, Hodges called an investigator and admitted he didn’t report the shooting and failed to provide his firearm to police, as required by his permit to carry, according to a sentencing document.

Hodges also said he gave his gun to a friend and claimed he fired the shots that night because his friend was pistol-whipped.

O’Brien said he couldn’t see any injuries to the friend on the video.

Hodges also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release following prison.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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