Hattiesburg man sentenced to 7 years in prison for Hobbs Act robbery

Published 11:52 am Monday, May 23, 2022

Gulfport, Miss. – A Hattiesburg man was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison for using actual force or violence to steal a firearm from Academy Sports + Outdoors, announced U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to information presented to the Court, on November 6, 2021, Cody Jerome Cooley, 23, visited Academy Sports + Outdoors in Gulfport. Cooley approached the gun counter and asked to see one of the handguns, a Springfield Armory XDM Elite.  The clerk gave Cooley the firearm to examine. Cooley later motioned towards another handgun in the display case. When the clerk turned his head to look at the gun, Cooley looked both ways, struck the clerk in the face with the Springfield Armory handgun, and fled from the store. This was all captured on surveillance footage.

After he fled from the store with the stolen handgun, armed civilians apprehended Cooley in a nearby restaurant parking lot. Post Miranda, Cooley admitted to taking the gun and striking the clerk.  The clerk that was struck by Cooley had to receive medical care for his injuries.

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Cooley pled guilty on January 11, 2022, to unlawfully obstructing, delaying, and affecting interstate commerce by robbery.

“The United States Attorney’s Office along with its federal, state and local partners is dedicated to prosecuting those who commit violent crimes in our communities. In this case, justice was swift. The residents of Gulfport deserve no less,” said United States Attorney Darren J. LaMarca.

Gulfport Police Deputy Chief Craig Petersen stated: “We at the Gulfport Police Department are committed to reducing gun violence in our city. Because of the partnerships with the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we successfully took a violent individual off the streets who could have participated in callous acts with a stolen firearm in our community. Continued efforts such as the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative are essential in making Gulfport a safer place to live and work.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Gulfport Police Department investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Buckner prosecuted the case.

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.