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Press Release

Alleged Athens Shooter Sentenced To Federal Prison On Multiple Gun Convictions

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

G. F. Peterman, III, Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that Rico Antonio Barnett, age 33, from Athens, Georgia, was sentenced today by the Honorable C. Ashley Royal, United States District Judge.  Mr. Barnett was sentenced to serve 156 months’ imprisonment for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on May 1, 2015, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on May 8, 2015.  The second gun conviction involved Mr. Barnett allegedly shooting another man in an aggravated assault case that remains pending in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court.

“Mr. Barnett has proven himself a violent and dangerous man, and the streets of Athens will be a safer place without him,” said Acting U.S. Attorney George F. Peterman, III.  “In just one week last May, he was arrested twice in possession of multiple guns, illegal drugs, and after having allegedly shot a man.  His conduct is even more disturbing when one considers that he has more than 45 prior state convictions, including for battery, family violence battery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.”

On May 1, 2015, Mr. Barnett was arrested by officers with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) who responded to a call that a man and woman were arguing in the parking lot of a gas station on Highway 29 in Athens.  In the course of their investigation, ACCPD officers found a loaded .45 caliber handgun and a quantity of marijuana hidden in the bushes near the gas station which Mr. Barnett ultimately admitted to having possessed.  A week later, on May 8, 2015, ACCPD police officers responded to a report of a shooting in a residential neighborhood.  Upon arrival, the police located a victim who had been shot in the leg and who identified the shooter as Mr. Barnett, who had recently received bond from his arrest the week before.  Shortly thereafter, the police located a car matching the description of the car that had fled the shooting, and after a high-speed car chase through another residential neighborhood, the police apprehended Mr. Barnett, who had fled on foot from the car while throwing two firearms away.

The case was investigated by the Athens Clarke County Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Peter Leary is handling the prosecution for the Government.

Inquiries regarding the case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey at the United States Attorney’s Office at 478-621-2603.

Updated May 17, 2016

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime