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Arizona man gets 30-year prison sentence for attempting to murder federal task force officer

Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - Robert Benjamin Nelson received a 30-year prison sentence for attempted murder last week, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico.

The 31-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona resident pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a federal task force officer and discharging a firearm during a federal crime of violence in March 2023.

The incident occurred on September 12, 2020. A New Mexico State Police Officer, who served as a Task Force Officer with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), started a traffic stop on Nelson's vehicle for following another vehicle too closely.

When the officer approached Nelson's vehicle, the convict fired a .22 caliber revolver three times at the officer through the window.

The initial blast shattered the passenger window and sent glass shards towards the officer's face and eyes. The second and third bullets then struck her hands. It caused permanent injury to one of her eyes and both of her hands. The officer fell, got back up, and returned fire as the vehicle sped off.

The officer then pursued Nelson, caught up to him, and pulled him over again. The officer saw Nelson retrieve a rifle from the floorboard of the vehicle and waited for backup to come to the scene. When help from Laguna Pubclo got to the scene, Nelson was arrested without further incident.

“Today, bravery prevailed over cowardice and truth over irrational hate,” U.S. Attorney Uballez said. “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.”

After being released from prison, Nelson will face four years of supervised release.

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