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Press Release

Columbia Man Sentenced to More Than Seven Years for Possessing Ammunition

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

Columbia, South Carolina --- Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that Leonard Earl Mitchell, 30, of Columbia, was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of ammunition.

Evidence presented to the court showed that after officers with the City of Columbia Police Department received a report of shots fired on Two Notch Road, they located nine spent shell casings in a parking lot. In reviewing the surveillance footage, officers saw an unknown person discharge two rounds from a car in the direction of Mitchell as he was exiting a business. After getting in a parked car, Mitchell retrieved a firearm and discharged ten rounds at the passing car and fled.

A City of Columbia police officer was able to identify Mitchell as a person involved in the shooting from a prior encounter, in addition to Mitchell’s distinctive facial tattoos.  When Mitchell was arrested, he had a 9mm pistol that matched the shell casings found in the parking lot.

Mitchell had previously been convicted of several felony offenses, including failure to stop for blue lights, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, assault and battery second degree, distribution of marijuana, assault and battery first degree, possession of methamphetamine/cocaine, and carrying or concealing weapon by an inmate. As such, Mitchell is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Mitchell to 90 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and City of Columbia Police Department. 

The case was prosecuted as part of the as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Assistant United States Attorney William K. Witherspoon and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kristen Bales prosecuted the case.


Derek A. Shoemake
(843) 813-0982

Updated November 23, 2021