Marion County Man Convicted In Shooting At VA Clinic In The Villages
Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces that a federal jury today found Stephen Cometa (62, Marion County) guilty of forcibly assaulting and resisting federal employees with a deadly and dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Cometa faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the assault and resisting charges, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life, in prison for discharging the firearm during a crime of violence. His sentencing hearing has not yet been set.
Cometa had been indicted on December 21, 2016.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Cometa entered The Villages VA Clinic carrying a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, a concealed handgun, and hundreds of rounds of extra ammunition for both firearms. Cometa walked through the clinic to a VA psychiatrist’s office, interrupted an ongoing treatment session, and pointed the assault rifle at the psychologist as he opened the door. The psychiatrist, as well as a VA contractor and two VA police officers, struggled with Cometa for control of the rifle and eventually subdued him. During the struggle, Cometa fired the assault rifle, shooting holes in the walls, ceiling, and furniture.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Ocala Resident Agency, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Police Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William S. Hamilton and Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.