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Press Release

Gaffney Man Accused of Shooting S.C. Highway Patrolman Indicted on Federal Firearm Charge

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

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that William Bernard Wright, a/k/a “Willie” Wright, a/k/a “Quentin Mitchell,” age 31, of Gaffney, who has been accused of shooting a South Carolina Highway Patrolman on June 2, 2019, was charged in federal court in a one-count indictment for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

“Violence against law enforcement will not be tolerated in our state,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon.  “Officers put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe every single day.  Our commitment to them is that when they are met with violence, we will hold offenders accountable. We are grateful to ATF, SLED, the Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and Solicitor Brackett for their assistance and critical work in this matter.”

The indictment alleges that on June 2, 2019, Wright was in possession of a FN Herstal, model Five-Seven, semi-automatic pistol and various rounds of 5.7 x 28mm ammunition.  At the time of the possession, federal law prohibited Wright from possessing a firearm or ammunition based upon at least one prior felony conviction.

According to a Criminal Complaint filed in federal court on June 6, 2019, it is alleged that on June 2, 2019, Trooper Paul A. Wise with the South Carolina Highway Patrol was on routine patrol in York County when he observed Wright operating a vehicle without a seatbelt.  When Trooper Wise attempted to initiate a traffic stop, Wright fled and failed to stop for blue lights.  When Wright reached a dead end, he exited the vehicle, drew a firearm, and discharged at least 12 rounds.  Trooper Wise was struck in his ballistic vest in the chest area and sustained other injuries to the right side of his neck.  Trooper Wise then exited his vehicle and returned fire, striking Wright.  Trooper Wise ordered Wright to the ground and called for backup.

Wright faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release on the federal indictment.  If the court determines enhanced penalties apply based on the Wright’s prior criminal record, Wright may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of life, a fine of $250,000, and 5 years supervised release.  The Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office has also indicted Wright on state charges related to this incident.

The charge against Wright was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elliott B. Daniels of the Columbia office.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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.

U.S. Attorney Lydon stated that all charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Contact

Lance Crick (864) 282-2105

Updated June 26, 2019

Topics
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods