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Press Release

Arizona Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Attempted Murder of a Federal Task Force Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Robert Benjamin Nelson was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Nelson, 31, of Scottsdale, Arizona, pled guilty to attempted murder of a federal task force officer and discharging a firearm during a federal crime of violence on March 22, 2023, following a mistrial on January 17, 2023.

According to court documents, on Sept. 12, 2020, a New Mexico State Police Officer, serving as a Task Force Officer with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), initiated a traffic enforcement stop on Nelson’s vehicle for following another vehicle too closely. As the officer approached Nelson’s vehicle from the passenger side, Nelson raised and fired a .22 caliber revolver three times at the officer through the window. The muzzle blast and initial round from the revolver shattered the passenger window, sending shards of glass into the officer’s face and eyes.  The officer raised her hands to shield her face, and the second and third bullets struck her in the hands, causing serious and permanent injury to one of her eyes and both of her hands. The officer fell to the ground, but immediately got back up and returned fire as the truck sped off.

The officer pursued and caught up with Nelson, still traveling west on I-40, and pulled him over again. The officer observed Nelson retrieve a rifle from the floorboard of his vehicle and waited for back up to arrive. Officers from the Laguna Pueblo arrived on scene and Nelson was arrested without further incident.

“Today, bravery prevailed over cowardice and truth over irrational hate,” said U.S. Attorney Uballez. “Federal law enforcement officers work every day to make our lives safer. When their lives are put at risk by someone who trained himself to fear police through fantastical internet videos, we will serve decisive justice to protect our protectors. My thanks to our team of prosecutors and federal law enforcement agents who investigated this case, and to the victim whose bravery, professionalism, and calm while under fire made this result possible.”

"These types of shootings are brazened, violent acts, absolutely without justification and a threat to our entire community," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda.  "An attack on a federal Task Force Officer is a federal crime with serious consequences.  Today’s sentencing reflects the FBI’s unwavering commitment to ensure that all those responsible for violence crimes against law enforcement officers are brought to justice."

Upon his release from prison, Nelson will be subject to 4 years of supervised release.

The FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case in conjunction with the New Mexico State Police and the Albuquerque Multiagency Officer Involved Shooting Team. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Mysliwiec and Nicholas Mote prosecuted the case.

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Updated October 11, 2023

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-245