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Press Release

Three Sentenced in Violent Robbery Attempt

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Defendants Opened Fire on Victims While Trying to Steal Drugs and Cash

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.  – Three Charlottesville men, who admitted to the attempted armed robbery of an Albemarle County man, were sentenced Tuesday in federal court.

Tyreek Saquan Ragland, 23, the leader of the group who organized the robbery plan, pled guilty to one count of attempted Hobbs Act robbery and was sentenced to 77 months in federal prison.

Madison Wonne Zelee, 26, and Tyrel Anthony Dowell, 23, also pled guilty to one count each of Hobbs Act robbery as well as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Zelee was sentenced to 60 months in prison while Dowell received a sentence of 52 months.

According to court documents, Ragland, Zelee, and Dowell targeted the victim because they believed he would be in possession of a large quantity of marijuana and cash at his home in Albemarle County.

On the afternoon of September 30, 2021, Zelee knocked on the intended victim’s front door asking about a lost dog.  Before opening the door, the intended victim saw Dowell emerging from the woods nearby wearing a ski mask.  The intended victim refused to open the door, and Zelee and Dowell then fled the scene in a getaway vehicle driven by Ragland.

Shortly after this confrontation, the intended victim contacted his father about the  incident, and they decided to go in search of the vehicle in which Ragland, Zelee, and Dowell had fled.

While the intended victim and his father were out searching for the getaway vehicle, a witness, who had remained at the intended victim’s residence, called them to report that a pizza delivery person was at the house trying to deliver a pizza.  Aware that no pizza order had been placed, the intended victim instructed the witness not to open the door. 

After immediately returning home, the intended victim observed a vehicle parked along the side of the road near his home that matched the getaway vehicle seen earlier in the day.  Sensing danger, the intended victim and his father decided to leave again, but as they did, Zelee and Dowell came out of the nearby woods and began shooting at them, striking their vehicle.  After the gunfire, Zelee and Dowell rejoined Ragland in the getaway vehicle and fled the scene for a second time.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh and Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Albemarle County Police Department investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald M. Huber prosecuted the case.

Updated September 23, 2022

Violent Crime