Ocala, Florida – Senior United States District Judge James D. Whittemore today sentenced Stephen Cometa (63, Marion County) to 17 years and 3 months in federal prison for forcibly assaulting and resisting federal employees with a deadly and dangerous weapon, and for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. A federal jury previously found Cometa guilty of the offenses on December 13, 2018.
According to the testimony and evidence presented in court, in December 2016, Cometa entered a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in The Villages 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 psychiatrist’s office, interrupted an ongoing treatment session, and pointed the assault rifle at the psychiatrist 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 assault 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 FBI—Ocala Resident Agency, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Police Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William S. Hamilton and Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.