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Man sentenced to more than 31 years for attempted murder of FBI agent in Canarsie

June 16, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Ronell Watson of Canarsie was sentenced Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court to 382 months’  imprisonment — more than 31 years — by U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz, II, for the attempted murder and assault of Christopher Harper, an FBI special agent. 

On Dec. 8, 2018, Special Agent Harper was on duty, conducting surveillance in an unrelated case involving drug dealing in the area. Around 3:20 p.m., Watson, driving a BMW in the wrong direction, approached Agent Harper’s vehicle. 

Watson, described in some press reports as a reputed Crips gang member, partially blocked Agent Harper’s vehicle, exited his BMW and approached Agent Harper’s vehicle with his hand inside the pocket of his sweatshirt. 

As Agent Harper tried to maneuver his vehicle around the BMW, Watson pulled a handgun out of his pocket and fired multiple shots, wounding Agent Harper in the back. The bullet lodged in one of his lungs, doctors found after he was transported to Kings County Hospital. 

Agent Harper returned fire at Watson, wounding him in the hand. Watson abandoned his bullet-ridden BMW at a nearby auto body shop, then had a friend drive him in another vehicle to a local hospital, where he was ultimately arrested.

Watson was convicted by a federal jury in July 2019 following a two-week trial. Mark J. Lesko, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; and William F. Sweeney, Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, announced the sentence. 

“Today, justice has been served. This Office is gratified by the lengthy prison sentence the court imposed on Watson for his senseless, cold-blooded and unprovoked shooting of Special Agent Harper, who came close to losing his life,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko extended his grateful appreciation to the New York City Police Department for its assistance during the investigation and the medical staff at Kings County Hospital for saving Special Agent Harper’s life. 

“Ronell Watson has now learned illegal behavior comes with lasting consequences. He will now spend the next 31 years of his life in federal prison for his ambush attack of FBI Special Agent Harper. While Watson is no longer a threat to the community, FBI special agents and our law enforcement partners remain on watch for those like him who have no regard for the lives of their fellow citizens,” Lesko said. 

Special Agent Harper underwent multiple surgeries to have the bullet removed from his lung and continue his service as a special agent of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Francisco J. Navarro is in charge of the prosecution.

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