Mississippi man gets 7 years in prison for striking store clerk with gun he requested to see, then running out of store with firearm

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022

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.

According to court documents, on Nov. 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.

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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.

Cooley pleaded guilty on Jan. 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.