U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia
(404) 581-6000
July 7, 2015

South Carolina Man Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison for Shooting a DEA Special Agent

COLUMBIA, SC—Joel Perrin Robinson has been sentenced to eight years in prison for shooting a DEA special agent serving a search warrant at Robinson’s house. Agents had obtained the warrant to search his home for chemicals used to manufacture PCP.

“This defendant shot an agent even though the agent was wearing a vest that clearly displayed the word “POLICE” in large, bold letters,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “Instead of returning fire, the agents took the defendant into custody without further incident. Their poise under fire reminds us of the challenges that law enforcement agents face every day while serving and protecting the community.”

“This investigation is a reminder of the dangers that law enforcement officers endure daily while protecting and serving the public,” said Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “Through training and tactics, the officers in this case showed poise by not returning fire, despite being fired upon. Instead, they identified and neutralized the threat. This investigation was successfully prosecuted because of the collective effort between DEA, federal, state and local law enforcement and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: On July 6, 2013, a house in Fairburn, Georgia burned to the ground. It burned for two days, and when investigators were finally able to enter the house, they found the charred remains of a large, clandestine phencyclidine (“PCP”) laboratory. Investigation into those responsible for the fire led DEA agents to Robinson’s residence.

On October 20, 2014, DEA agents executed a search warrant at Robinson’s Orangeburg, South Carolina home for chemicals used to manufacture PCP. The agents announced their presence by sounding sirens, flashing lights, and yelling “Police, Search Warrant!” When the agents entered, Robinson grabbed a laser-sighted pistol and fired it into a wall without ever identifying a target.

Robinson then put on slippers, walked to a door leading out to a swimming pool, and opened it. Standing in the pool area were two DEA agents. Robinson activated the laser sight on his weapon and aimed it at one of those agents, who was wearing a ballistic vest with the word “POLICE” written across the front in yellow letters. Robinson shot that agent, hitting him in the arm, causing serious injury. None of the other 19 DEA agents at the scene fired back at Robinson, but moved quickly to take Robinson into custody.

Joel Perrin Robinson, 33, of Orangeburg, S.C., was sentenced Monday July 6, 2015, to eight years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release by J. Michelle Childs, U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina. He was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $82,518.31, in addition to any medical bills the DEA Special Agent incurs over the next 90 days. On February 9, 2015, Robinson pleaded guilty to a charge of using a deadly weapon to assault an officer serving a search warrant.

Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case. Valuable assistance was also provided by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office, Fulton County Fire Department, Atlanta Fire Department, Snellville Police Department, Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department, Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office, Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and the Columbia Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Herskowitz, Vivek Kothari, Jennifer Whitfield, and Michael J. Brown, who have been admitted as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the District of South Carolina, prosecuted the case.

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