Hancock County man to serve more than 20 years for shooting federal officer

A Hancock County man was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison after shooting a federal officer in relation to a crime of violence.

Joseph Dale Sonnier, 32, pleaded guilty April 1 in federal court to assault of a federal officer and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime.  U.S. District Judge Taylor McNeel sentenced Sonnier on Thursday to 257 months.

According to court documents, Sonnier had an outstanding arrest warrant from 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. Sonnier shot a member of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in the neck when marshals attempted to execute the warrant on July 21, 2020 in Gautier.

The shooting occured at the Siegel Select Gautier, an extended stay hotel. After knocking and announcing their presence, a woman opened the door and told Marshals there was another person in the room. Marshals again identified themselves and tried to call Sonnier out of the room. Sonnier, sitting in the bathroom, fired two rounds from a 45-caliber pistol and one of those rounds struck a Marshal in the neck.

Sonnier was taken into custody unharmed. The agent was taken to a hospital and treated for the gunshot wound.

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

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