Drug Task Force: Suspect’s gun accidentally discharged when discarded during foot chase in downtown Watertown

Media Release

WATERTOWN, NY —  On 08/19/20 at, about 2:00 pm, members of the Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force responded to the Woolworth Building located at 11 Public Square in the City of Watertown to assist the NYS Division of Parole with an investigation.

This investigation was focused on apartment 405, which is the residence of parolee Michael H. Townsend (age 38).

Nicole L. Ellsworth (age 32) also occupied this apartment at the time of the
investigation.

A search warrant was subsequently obtained and executed. At the conclusion of the search warrant, a loaded 9mm Taurus handgun and a quantity of narcotics and cash were seized.

As detectives were clearing this location James E.R.L. Christian (age 43) was
observed in the area for whom a sealed indictment for drug sales and possession had been issued. Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force members attempted to take Mr. Christian into custody which led to a foot pursuit.

As Mr. Christian fled detectives observed that he had a handgun tucked in his waistband. Mr. Christian removed the gun from his waistband during the pursuit and discarded it, which resulted in an accidental discharge of the weapon. He then complied with detectives orders and was taken into custody. No injuries resulted from the discharge of the weapon and it was recovered at the scene.

As a result, Mr. Christian was charged with one count of Criminal Possession of a
Controlled Substance in the 3rd degree (class B felony), one count of Criminal Sale of a Controlled in the 3rd degree (class B felony), two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 5th degree (class D felony) and two counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 5th degree (class D felony). Mr. Christian was processed and held pending arraignment in Jefferson County Court.

The Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force was assisted by the NYS Division of Parole, the
Watertown Police Road Patrol and ID unit, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and the NYS Police.

Both investigations are on-going.

Additional charges and arrests are pending.