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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to More Than 31 Years’ Imprisonment for Attempted Murder and Assault of an FBI Special Agent

Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Ronell Watson was sentenced to 382 months years’ imprisonment by United States District Judge William F. Kuntz, II, for the attempted murder and assault of Christopher Harper, a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Watson was convicted by a federal jury in July 2019 following a two-week trial.

Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the sentence.

“Today, justice has been served.  This Office is gratified by the lengthy prison sentence the court imposed on Watson for his senseless, cold-blooded and unprovoked shooting of Special Agent Harper, who came close to losing his life,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko.  “This Office will never tolerate murderous assaults on members of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our communities.”  Mr. Lesko extended his grateful appreciation to the New York City Police Department for its assistance during the investigation and the medical staff at Kings County Hospital for saving Special Agent Harper’s life.

“Ronell Watson has now learned illegal behavior comes with lasting consequences.  He will now spend the next 31 years of his life in federal prison for his ambush attack of FBI Special Agent Harper.  While Watson is no longer a threat to the community, FBI Special Agents and our law enforcement partners remain on watch for those like him who have no regard for the lives of their fellow citizens.  I would like to acknowledge Special Agent Harper's bravery and quick thinking, which not only saved his life, but led to Watson's swift arrest.  His professionalism and courage under fire were an example for all of us.  This office is also eternally grateful to the NYPD, civilians, and the medical teams who responded to save their fellow public servant,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

On December 8, 2018, Special Agent Harper was on-duty conducting surveillance in an unrelated case.  At approximately 3:20 p.m., Watson, driving a BMW sedan in the wrong direction, approached Agent Harper’s vehicle.  Watson partially blocked Agent Harper’s vehicle, exited his BMW and approached Agent Harper’s vehicle with his hand inside the pocket of his sweatshirt.  As Agent Harper tried to maneuver his vehicle around the BMW, Watson pulled a handgun out of his pocket and fired multiple shots, wounding Agent Harper in the back; the bullet lodged in one of his lungs.  Agent Harper returned fire at Watson, wounding him in the hand.  Watson abandoned his bullet-ridden BMW at a nearby auto body shop, then had a friend drive him in another vehicle to the hospital where he was ultimately arrested.  Special Agent Harper underwent multiple surgeries to have the bullet removed from his lung and continue his service as a Special Agent of the FBI.   

Assistant United States Attorney Francisco J. Navarro is in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Age: 33
Canarsie, Brooklyn

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-4 (WFK)


Violent Crime
John Marzulli United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated June 15, 2021