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Press Release

Columbus Man Pleads Guilty To Possessing A Firearm In Furtherance Of A Crime Of Violence

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

COLUMBUS: Charles E. Peeler, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces that Zachary Eckelmann, age 23, of Columbus, Georgia, pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land in Columbus, Georgia on August 20, 2018.  This plea subjects Mr. Eckelmann to a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of 10 years, and a maximum of life in prison.

In his plea agreement, Mr. Eckelmann admitted that on May 28, 2015, he and at least one other person were operating a vehicle in Columbus, Georgia, when the vehicle’s owner observed them and pursued.  The car chase continued on to Ft. Benning, where a shootout ensued.  No one was injured, and a stolen firearm used by Mr. Eckelmann was recovered.  Mr. Eckelmann now admits he possessed the stolen gun, and he discharged the gun in the direction of his pursuer.

Mr. Eckelmann is scheduled to be sentenced on September 18, 2018 in Columbus.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority.  In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

This case was investigated by the Columbus Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Army Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant United States Attorney Melvin E. Hyde, Jr. is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Questions concerning this case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603.

Updated August 22, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods