News and Press Releases

Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Firearm and Ammunition Charge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2014

Contact Person: Stacey Haynes (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina ----- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that MICHAEL JUAN SMITH, a/k/a “Flame,” a/k/a “Junior,” age 21, of Columbia, South Carolina pled guilty as charged today in federal court.  SMITH plead guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e).  United States District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. accepted the plea and will impose a sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that shortly after 2:00 am on October 13, 2013, SMITH, along with several friends, was in the Five Points area of Columbia.  Surveillance videos show SMITH and his friends walk up Harden Street towards the Library nightclub.  At one point, surveillance video shows SMITH adjusting what appears to be a handgun in his jacket pocket as he walks up the street.  They return down Harden Street a short time later and after passing by the fountain area where taxis pick up customers, SMITH becomes involved in an altercation with another group of individuals.  At this point, SMITH fires his handgun striking an innocent bystander standing in line at the taxi stand.  That bystander, a college student, was paralyzed as a result.  SMITH attempted to flee the scene on foot, but was immediately apprehended on Harden Street by a Columbia Police Department officer responding to the shooting.  SMITH refused demands to take his hand from his jacket pocket and a search revealed a loaded Glock .40 caliber handgun in SMITH’s front jacket pocket.   At the scene, SMITH voluntarily uttered, “I did not mean to shoot.”  A check of a law enforcement database revealed that the firearm had previously been reported as stolen during a burglary in Richland County.  An analysis of gunshot residue from SMITH’s hand was consistent with him having fired a gun and ballistics testing determined that a .40 caliber shell casing recovered at the scene of the shooting was consistent with being fired from SMITH’S .40 caliber handgun.   

The investigation revealed that SMITH, who was on state probation at the time of the incident, is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and/or ammunition based upon his prior state convictions for burglary 2nd degree of a dwelling (two separate counts).     

Mr. Nettles stated that SMITH faces a statutory maximum sentence of ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years following the term of imprisonment.  However, if SMITH were found to have three prior violent felony convictions and/or serious drug convictions, he would be deemed an armed career criminal under federal law and face a statutory mandatory minimum of fifteen (15) years imprisonment with a maximum of life, a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of five (5)  years to follow the term of imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the Columbia Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases.  Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.

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