Newberry Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearm Charge Stemming from Vista Shooting
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Maleik Houseal, 23, of Newberry, South Carolina, pled guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm in relation to a September 2017 Columbia shooting.
Evidence presented in court established that at approximately 2:12 am on September 16, 2017, a shooting between a group of individuals from Newberry occurred outside the Empire Supper Club in the Vista entertainment district of Columbia. It was a college football weekend and the Vista area was full of people. All total, eight individuals, including Houseal, were shot.
The investigation showed that when the club closed at 2:00 am, as people spilled out onto the sidewalks, Houseal went to the parking lot and retrieved a firearm from a car. Houseal returned to the sidewalk area outside of the club, where he remained. As another group of individuals from Newberry left the club parking lot, they fired weapons from their cars in Houseal’s direction, striking Houseal and others. Houseal fired back and ran after the cars, firing his weapon. He then discarded his 9mm handgun in a pile of chairs outside the club, where authorities later recovered it.
Houseal and the other individuals in the vehicles were all charged with various state charges stemming from the incident. Those state charges remain pending, and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Federal law prohibits Houseal from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his prior state convictions. Houseal has the following prior convictions: burglary 2nd degree, carrying a firearm in a public building/adjacent area, carrying an unlawful weapon (two separate convictions), burglary 3rd degree, obstruction of justice, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. At the time of the September 2017 shooting, Houseal was both on state probation and on state bonds for incidents that occurred after his release from the South Carolina Department of Corrections in May 2017.
Houseal faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release. United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after she has received and reviewed a presentence report prepared by the United States Probation Office.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Columbia Police Department, and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and was prosecuted as part of Project CeaseFire, a joint federal, state, and local initiative focused upon aggressively prosecuting firearm cases in an effort to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer. Project CeaseFire is South Carolina’s implementation of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a crime reduction strategy originally launched in 2001 that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Turning the tide of rising violent crime in America is a top priority for the Department of Justice, which has reinstituted PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy. Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.