Hancock County man sentenced for shooting federal law enforcement officer


File photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

GULFPORT, Miss. (WJTV) – A Hancock County man has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for assault of a federal officer and discharging a firearm in July 2020.

According to court documents, a member of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force (USMS agent) was shot in the neck by 32-year-old Joseph Dale Sonnier, while executing an arrest warrant on July 21.  Sonnier was wanted 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, a woman opened the door and told the agents there was another person (Sonnier) in the room. 

As agents entered the room, Sonnier was sitting in the hotel room bathroom and shot two rounds from a High-Point .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol at the agents.  One round fired by Sonnier struck the 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.  

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