DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Washington

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 13, 2023
Vanessa R. Waldref
, United States Attorney

Long-Time Sureno Gang Member Is Sentenced to More Than 20 Years in Federal Prison for Shooting an Undercover Law Enforcement Officer

Spokane, WA – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Randy Coy James Holmes, age 25, of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced today to more than 20 years in federal prison for Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Federal Law Enforcement Officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(1), (b) as well as Discharge of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The charges stem from  Holmes’s attempted robbery of an undercover law enforcement officer in November 2021.  United States District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice pronounced sentence.

According to court documents and information disclosed at court proceedings, in early November 2021, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) Confidential Informant reported that Holmes, who is a documented Sureno gang member and uses the alias “Whispers,” was looking to obtain a firearm to conduct future strong-arm robberies. The informant arranged for Holmes to contact an undercover ATF agent so Holmes could purchase a firearm from the agent. ATF intended to sell Holmes an inoperable firearm and then arrest him. The same day, a second ATF confidential informant advised ATF that Holmes contacted a second informant to obtain a firearm.

On November 5, 2021, Holmes agreed to meet the undercover ATF agent at the Motel 6 parking lot in Spokane to purchase the firearm. Holmes had offered to pay the undercover agent approximately one ounce of methamphetamine in exchange for the firearm, instead of U.S. Currency. Holmes arrived at the Motel 6 as planned, driving a Dodge Charger. Holmes’s co-defendants, Vincent Petrushkin and William Huntington Burns, who are also Sureno gang members, were inside the Dodge Charger with Holmes. 

Before Holmes’s got out of the car, Burns provided Holmes with a firearm, which later was identified as a 9mm semi-automatic Glock handgun, as so called “protection” for the transaction with the undercover agent. Holmes then exited the Charger and got into the front passenger seat of the undercover ATF agent’s car. During the transaction, the undercover agent expressed concerns to Holmes about conducting the transaction at that location given that Holmes arrived with two additional individuals in his car. The undercover agent then asked to move the transaction to a nearby parking lot, away from the two men in the Dodge Charger.

Holmes then responded that he would “tell the homies” and started to get out of the undercover agent’s car. Holmes, however, stopped short of fully exiting the car. Instead, Holmes re-entered the car, pulled out the 9mm semi-automatic handgun, pointed the gun at the undercover agent’s head, and demanded the firearm the undercover agent was going to sell him. Among other things, Holmes screamed at the undercover agent, while pointing a gun at the agent’s head: “give it to me now… I’m gonna shoot you in the f’ing head ese … I ain’t f’ing playing with you.”

The undercover agent, who was in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm, raised his hands above his head, and advised Holmes that the firearm was in the back of the car. Holmes then fully exited the undercover agent’s vehicle and ran around to the back of the car to obtain the firearm. This interaction between Holmes and the undercover ATF agent inside the car was captured on a video recording device from inside the undercover agent’s vehicle.

After Holmes got out of the car, the undercover agent exited the vehicle and directed Holmes to drop the gun. Rather than drop his firearm, Holmes repeatedly fired the 9mm semi-automatic Glock at the undercover agent, striking the agent multiple times, and causing the agent serious and permanent bodily injury. The undercover agent returned fire, striking Holmes. Audio from the shooting was captured by the video recorder inside the undercover agent’s car.

ATF surveillance agents quickly arrived at the scene and rendered life-saving aid to Holmes before he and the undercover agent were transported to the hospital. At the hospital, emergency room personnel located approximately 1 ounce of methamphetamine in Holmes’s jacket pocket.

At the time of this offense, Holmes was on federal supervised release stemming from a 2019 conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2). Holmes also was on Washington State Department of Corrections community custody supervision from an unrelated state felony conviction. 

Codefendants Petrushkin and Burns have both previously pled guilty to federal offenses related to this incident.  Additionally, Kenneth Rankin Gazzaway was identified as having purchased the that Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee in the Spokane area.  The ATF learned Gazzaway was a methamphetamine user, which precluded him from purchasing a firearm.  Nonetheless, Gazzawaylied on federal paperwork in order to purchase this and other firearms. During the case, Gazzaway admitted to traded some of the firearms he illegally purchased for drugs. One of those individuals to whom Gazzaway traded firearms was Adam Layton, who is another documented Sureno — i.e., the same criminal street gang as Holmes.

During today’s sentencing hearing, the undercover ATF agent, his wife, and his mother, provided powerful victim impact statements discussing the impact Holmes’s actions had on their family’s life.  Excerpts of the undercover agents statements are included as an attachment. 

During the sentencing process, Holmes attempted to shift blame for the offense, blaming a multitude of other individuals for his actions.  However, Judge Rice was not persuaded, and sentenced Holmes to more than two decades in federal prison.

“This tragic case demonstrates the danger and violence that too frequently occurs when convicted felons possess firearms and engage in illegal drug trafficking,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I am grateful for the exceptional courage and bravery of law enforcement officers, who put their personal safety at risk to protect our community, and I commend the ATF agents involved for their exceptional professionalism in rendering life-saving aid to Mr. Holmes before he could be treated at a hospital. Our community is stronger as a result of these agents’ tremendous service. My heart goes out to the the undercover ATF agent and his family. They have made tremendous sacrifices to ensure the safety of the community.  I commend him for his service and thank all of the brave men and women who led the investigation and prosecution in this case.”

“Thanks to the bravery, quick thinking, and professionalism of this agent and the nearby team, Mr. Holmes survived an incident of his own making and will have the next two decades in prison to consider the consequences of his repeated offenses,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle field office. “I commend the law enforcement officers in Washington state and across the country who protect their communities, knowing every day could take a dangerous turn in just a moment and might never be the same for themselves and their families.”

Assistant United States Attorney, Caitlin Baunsgard, who led the United States’ prosecution in this case, stated, “In this case, a multiple-time convicted felon — who was being supervised by two separate courts, and who was living in a halfway house after having been released from federal prison — was looking for a gun to commit home-invasion robberies.” AUSA Baunsgard continued, “In response to this clear threat to the community, the ATF fearlessly, and without hesitation, did their job.  These agents stepped up to protect and serve the community.  I am so proud to work with this amazing group of professionals.” 

This case has been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Spokane Police Department.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Caitlin Baunsgard and Patrick Cashman. 

Case No.: 2:21-CR-164-TOR

us_v_holmes_victim_statement.pdf (60.61 KB)


Contact: Richard R. Barker
Public Affairs Officer


Seattle Field Division