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Press Release

Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Shooting at Police

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa

Court found Randall Comly responsible for attempted murder of police officers


DES MOINES, Iowa – On August 20, 2020, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Randall Lee Comly, age 53, of Stuart, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison following his guilty pleas to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and felon in possession of a firearm, announced United States Attorney Marc Krickbaum. At sentencing, the United States presented evidence that Comly, a multi-time convicted drug dealer, attempted to murder four law enforcement officers.

On the night of October 17, 2019, officers with the Stuart Police Department and Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office went to Comly’s residence in Stuart to arrest him on valid arrest warrants for second-degree arson and a probation violation.

Comly ambushed the officers, jumped out of a closet, and emptied his gun by firing six rounds at a sheriff’s deputy who stood only a few feet away. During the resulting exchange of gunfire, two Sheriff’s deputies were shot. After the shooting, Comly barricaded himself inside the apartment and a hostage negotiation team was called. Comly eventually gave himself up and was arrested just before midnight. A search of Comly’s residence revealed methamphetamine and items used in drug trafficking.

Comly has a lengthy criminal history, including three prior felony drug trafficking convictions. He was serving a state term of probation when he attempted to murder the four officers on October 17, 2019. Based on Comly’s criminal history, the Court found him to be an armed career criminal.

In announcing the sentence, United States Attorney Marc Krickbaum said, “We thank and commend the law enforcement officers from the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office and the Stuart Police Department who in this case put their lives on the line to protect the people in their community from a violent criminal. Randall Comly tried to murder those officers. He tried to take husbands away from their wives, and fathers away from their children so that he could escape justice. Justice was delivered today in federal court, and we are grateful.”

Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Kansas City Field Division, Marino Vidoli said, “We are thankful for the heroic actions taken by these deputies and officers. At the very heart of ATF’s mission to investigate violent firearms crime is bringing armed criminals like Randall Comly to justice. Today’s sentencing ensures that he will be held accountable for his dangerous actions and prevented from engaging in further violence.”

The investigation was spearheaded by the ATF. Investigative support was provided by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Adair County Sheriff’s Office, Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office, and the Stuart Police Department.  This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, with assistance from the Adair County Attorney’s Office.


Rachel J. Scherle

Updated August 20, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses