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Press Release

Nashville Man Convicted by Federal Jury After Being Stopped With A Loaded Gun in His Car After Evading Barricades for Local Festival

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A federal jury convicted John Joseph Simmons, II, age 34, from Nashville yesterday on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm on May 13, 2023, after he was stopped for evading barricades set up for the annual Blooming Festival in Nashville with a loaded gun in his car.

“Nashville’s annual Blooming Festival typically draws families enjoying food, music, and springtime fun. But in the last several years, the festival has sometimes drawn reckless actors with guns,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “We are proud to partner with the Nashville Police Department in its stepped-up efforts to keep the community safe.  This verdict is a clear warning to keep illegal guns away from Eastern North Carolina festivals this summer.  This former felon  dodged a police barricade with a loaded gun in the car.  He now faces a lengthy federal prison sentence.” 

According to court records and evidence presented at trial Simmons illegally possessed a firearm when he drove past a police barricade on West Washington Street in downtown Nashville on the evening of Saturday, May 13, 2023. West Washington Street was closed at the time due to ongoing festivities at the Blooming Festival, Nashville’s annual festival. Simmons, who had previously been convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon and second-degree kidnapping in Edgecombe County was not allowed to possess a firearm. When officers stopped Simmons for driving around the barrier, they spotted a Taurus G3C 9mm handgun laying on the front passenger seat within reach of Simmons. An officer asked Simmons if he was a convicted felon and he responded by looking directly at the firearm and then stating, “that’s not mine, it’s my girlfriend’s gun,” acknowledging that he was aware the gun was in the car. The firearm was loaded with 12 rounds including one in the chamber and the firearm’s safety was not engaged. Simmons still faces charges in Nash County for DUI related to his stop.

Caleb Shockley, the Head of Investigations for the Nashville Police stated “This is a prime example of how the Nashville Police Department is and continues to collaboratively work with Federal Task Force Officers and the United States Attorney’s Office in order to secure justice for violent felons who possess firearms. This is a proactive approach to address the recent uptick in violence that Nashville has experienced, particularly firearm-related incidents at the Blooming Festival.”

Simmons faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison when sentenced on a future date.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II accepted the verdict. The Nashville Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations 

investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Childress and Phil Aubart are prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No.5:24-CR-114-M-BM.


Updated June 28, 2024

Firearms Offenses