PENSACOLA – A Valparaiso man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney‘s Office.


Dennis A. Toomer, 37, was arrested May 8, 2019, by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office after battering his pregnant girlfriend and threatening her and her two juvenile brothers with a loaded handgun.


Toomer was prohibited from having a firearm because he previously had been convicted of 15 felony offenses, including five battery convictions, four drug-related convictions and a conviction for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.


The sentence was announced Wednesday by Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.


"We will vigorously prosecute those whose actions recklessly endanger the public," Keefe said. "This convicted felon chose to arm himself with a firearm and now will pay the heavy consequences for his actions."


Because Toomer had at least three prior convictions for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, he was subject to enhanced penalties under the Armed Career Criminal Act.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Forbes prosecuted the case after a joint investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.


"Reducing violent crime and protecting the public in the communities that we serve is a priority for ATF," ATF Special Agent in Charge Daryl McCrary said. "We will continue to work vigorously with our law enforcement partners to make sure those individuals who commit violent firearms crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."