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Published March 28, 2024

Dakota Lounge Shooter Sentenced

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan
Theophris Drake (Photo: submitted)
Theophris Drake (Photo: submitted)

Headed to Penitentiary

MINOT – He shot two men inside a crowded bar. Now he has been sentenced to serve a lengthy time behind bars.

Theophris Drake, 41, Birmingham, Ala., pled guilty in October 2023, to the shooting of two men among a crowd of patrons in the Dakota Lounge in early February 2023. Thursday, he received his sentence in front of North Central District Judge Douglas Mattson.

During a sentencing hearing that lasted more than two hours, Mattson heard the State recommend that Drake’s sentence for a class B felony charge of Aggravated Assault, and four additional class C felony charges related to the shooting, serve 16 years in the State Penitentiary.

State’s Attorney Roza Larson asked the court that Drake be sentenced to three consecutive two-year terms on three class C felony counts, followed by 20 years, serve 10, on the Aggravated Assault charge. The defense countered with a request for a 10-year sentence, serve four.

Larson played a video of the shooting for the court to see, saying, “There was no defense for shooting in a crowd or bringing a gun into a bar.”

Larson pointed out to the court that Drake was deemed a habitual offender due to two previous convictions for Robbery in 2003 and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm in 2009. She added that Drake had lied to the court several times while the case was being decided.

Mattson took a short recess before returning to the courtroom and announcing Drake’s sentence. Mattson told Drake, “Willingness to use excessive force is not justified. This community had had to damn much of people shooting a gun in or near a bar. This case really comes down to public safety.”

Then the judge asked Drake why he had a gun. Drake said he was a truck driver and that profession took him to dangerous places. Earlier, Larson explained that Drake attempted to circumvent the law of a felon not to possess a firearm.

“The gun was registered to his wife,” said Larson.

Drake read a statement prior to final sentencing, saying, “I wish it had been avoided” and “will never touch another firearm, ever.”

Mattson sentenced Drake to two years on one class C felony count, followed by concurrent two-year terms on two additional class C felony counts, then 15 years, serve eight, on the class B felony charge, for a total of 12 years. Restitution for medical bills, which Drake told the court he agreed to pay, was $100,927.85.

Drake fired the handgun inside the Dakota Lounge in reaction to an altercation involving a friend, resulting in permanent injury to one victim and the wounding of another. Police apprehended Drake hiding behind firewood at a nearby grocery store.

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