A Hancock County man last week entered a guilty plea to charges stemming from an incident last year in Gautier in which he shot and wounded a U.S. Marshal.

Joseph Dale Sonnier, 32, pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Gulfport on Thursday to four counts of assaulting and resisting officers, one count of discharging a firearm in a violent crime and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The incident occurred on July 21, 2020, when local, state and federal law enforcement officers were executing a state arrest warrant for kidnapping against Sonnier while he was hiding out at an extended stay hotel in Gautier.

After officers knocked on the door of the room where Sonnier was staying, he delayed them a few moments, then fired shots from a .45 semi-automatic handgun through the door. One of those shots grazed a Harrison County sheriff’s deputy who was assigned to the U.S. Marshals task force, wounding him in the neck.

Court records show that Sonnier told officers after he was arrested that he was not trying to hurt them, but trying to get them to kill him because he didn’t want to go back to prison. He reported having post-traumatic stress disorder and anger issues from being stabbed during. 2015 prison stay.

A federal judge is scheduled to sentence Sonnier on July 8, 2021. He faces 20 years in prison on each of the four counts of assault and 10 years in prison for each count of discharging a firearm and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

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