Man Gets 16-Year Prison Term for Mississippi Casino Armed Robbery, Shooting a Cop

  • William Christopher Belk stole items at gunpoint from the Bok Homa Casino in Mississippi
  • Local police officer Grimaldo spotted the suspect at a nearby gas station and tried to arrest him
  • The officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries after Belk shot him in the face and arm
  • Robberies and shooting incidents involving casinos in the US are not uncommon
man takes out gun from jeans pocket
A man has received a 16-year prison term for the armed robbery of a Mississippi casino that led to him shooting a police officer. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Accused pleaded guilty to charges

A federal judge has sentenced a man to 16 years in prison for the armed robbery of a casino in Mississippi last year that subsequently led to the shooting of a local police officer.

William Christopher Belk received the sentence on Friday after previously pleading guilty to robbery and using a firearm during a crime of violence. The scene of the incident was Bok Homa Casino, a gambling facility on the Choctaw Indian Reservation and close to Sandersville.

pointed the firearm at a security officer and proceeded to take numerous items before fleeing

According to prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, the 33-year-old Belk entered the casino on July 9, 2020 with a handgun. He pointed the firearm at a security officer and proceeded to take numerous items before fleeing the property in a resort vehicle.

Officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries

Miguel Grimaldo, a part-time Sandersville Police Department officer, spotted the resort vehicle at a gas station near the casino and tried to arrest the suspect. Belk shot him in the face and arm while attempting to escape. Grimaldo, who is also a Jones County Sheriff’s Department deputy, received hospital treatment for his non-life-threatening injuries.

robbery, using a firearm during a crime of violence, and stealing from an Indian gaming facility

Police officers in nearby Laurel eventually arrested the suspect at a Walmart following a chase. At the time, Belk received charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Last August, a federal grand jury indicted Belk for robbery, using a firearm during a crime of violence, and stealing from an Indian gaming facility. In February this year, Belk pleaded guilty to the first two of these charges.

In the official news release about Belk’s sentencing, Acting US Attorney Darren LaMarca praised the Choctaw Police Department of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the FBI for their work on the case.

Not an uncommon occurrence

Incidents of theft and shootings are not uncommon at casinos across the United States, with some more serious than others. In March, two men received life sentences for their roles in a January 2018 armed robbery and shooting inside an illegal internet casino in Bakersfield, California.

While nobody died, the robbers shot at a security guard as they tried to flee the scene. The guard got hit by two bullets, receiving non-life-threatening injuries. Speaking about the reasoning behind the life sentences, Kern County DA Cynthia Zimmer said: “The life sentences in this case are a proper reflection of the serious criminal history of the offenders as well as the extremely violent actions of the crimes they committed.”

In a more recent shooting incident, a gunman killed two people at Oneida Casino in Green Bay, Wisconsin on May 1. Police shot the attacker dead after they arrived on the scene. The authorities believe that this was not a random attack, saying the shooter was targeting a specific person who worked at the facility.