Hancock County Man Sentenced to Over 21 Years in Prison for Shooting Federal Law Enforcement Officer

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Gulfport, Miss. – A Hancock County man was sentenced today to 257 months in federal prison for assault of a federal officer and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

According to court documents, on July 21, 2020, a member of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force (USMS agent) was shot in the neck by Joseph Dale Sonnier, while executing an outstanding arrest warrant.  Sonnier, 32, had an outstanding arrest warrant from the Hancock County Circuit Court for two counts of kidnapping, armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The shooting occurred at the Siegel Select Gautier, an extended stay hotel in Gautier.  After multiple attempts knocking on Sonnier’s hotel room door and announcing their presence, a woman opened the door and told the USMS agents there was another person (Sonnier) in the room.  The USMS agents, from outside of the hotel room doorway, identified themselves as USMS agents and attempted to call Sonnier out.  Sonnier, who was sitting in the hotel room bathroom, shot two rounds from a High-Point .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol at the USMS agents.  One round fired by Sonnier struck the USMS agent in the neck.  Sonnier was taken into custody unharmed.  The USMS agent was transported to the hospital and treated for the gunshot wound to his neck.

Sonnier pled guilty on April 1, 2021 to assault of a federal officer and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shundral H. Cole.

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