Goshen murder suspect charged for assault of federal officer

A federal magistrate judge charges Angel Uriarte with assault on federal officer involving a weapon, discharging firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm

FRESNO –  A few weeks after a suspect in the Goshen Murders fought back at agents during his arrest, he is getting charged for firing his weapon at a federal officer.

On Feb. 28, U.S. Attorney Philip A. Talbert announced a federal magistrate judge issued an arrest warrant based on a complaint for Angel Uriarte, 35, of Visalia. Uriarte was recently arrested in the Goshen shooting also known as Operation Nightmare. He is being charged with assault on a federal officer involving a weapon, discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

“The shots fired at the ATF agents executing the search and arrest warrants in this case underscore the dangers that our men and women in law enforcement face,” U.S. Attorney Talbert said. “We are forever in the debt of the federal agents who willingly serve and protect us every day. Those who attempt to use deadly force against a federal officer engaged in his or her duties should expect to face a federal prosecution that employs the full resources of the U.S. Department of Justice.”

According to court documents, on Feb. 3, 2023, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) assisted in serving warrants related to a January 2023 murder in Goshen in which six victims were killed. One of the warrants was for the arrest of Uriarte on murder charges arising from those murders. The other was for a residence in Visalia where evidence showed Uriarte was located.

The ATF Special Response Team (SRT) began efforts to serve the warrant. Prior to making entry into the residence, the SRT announced their presence over a public address system and directed that the residents come out with their hands up. Several residents exited the residence, but Uriarte was not one of them. After a period of time passed, agents began to prepare to make entry into the residence. As this occurred, Uriarte ran through the yard and fired a gun in the direction of the home and ATF agents. He then fired three rounds at an ATF agent, who returned fire striking and wounding Uriarte. Agents rendered medical aid.

Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office said in a statement that the FBI is committed to thoroughly investigating any assault on a federal officer. It is a violation of federal law that falls under the FBI’s jurisdiction. He also said they appreciate all the support they have received from all other investigative agencies.

 “Assaults on federal agents and/or task force officers are serious crimes that deserve our full attention,” Regan said.

According to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office, agents found a Bersa .380 semi-automatic pistol near where Uriarte fell. Uriarte has a 2014 felony conviction for assault with a firearm on a person for which he had been sentenced to seven years in prison.

“During service of these warrants, the defendant responded by shooting at ATF agents,” ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge Joshua Jackson said. “Our team responded with an appropriate level of force and professionalism to disarm and take the defendant into custody, and protect the community from further harm.”

If convicted of assault on a federal officer, Uriarte faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. If convicted of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison consecutive to any other sentence and a fine of up to $250,000, and if convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, he faces 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, the ATF, the FBI, the DEA, and other agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antonio J. Pataca and Stephanie M. Stokman are prosecuting the case.

“ATF remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the community from violent crime and hold those accountable who choose to commit violent crime,” Jackson said.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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