Orangeburg Man Pleads to Federal Firearm Charge Stemming From Shooting of Officers
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon stated that Eugene Jonathan James, age 20, of Orangeburg, plead guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs, of Columbia, accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the United States Probation Office.
Evidence presented in court established that at approximately 12:36am on May 27, 2017, officers with the Cayce Department of Public Safety were running radar on Knox Abbott Drive when they observed a car traveling 15-20 mph over the speed limit. After activating their blue lights and siren in an attempt to conduct a traffic stop, a chase ensued across the Blossom Street Bridge into Columbia. At one point, the driver of the car appeared to stop, but when officers approached, the car sped off again. Ultimately, the car stopped near the Riverwalk and the sole occupant/driver, later identified as James, fled on foot, disregarding officers’ commands for him to stop. James fled into the woodline off the Riverwalk and assumed a crouched position, which appeared to the officers to be lying in wait for them. After threatening to use his taser to get James to comply, one officer heard gunshots and felt pain. That officer, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was shot in the chest and leg and the other officer was shot in his leg. Officers returned fire and called for backup assistance.
Responding officers located James in the woodline with a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson lying at his feet. James had also been shot. Further investigation revealed that the car driven by James had been stolen during a carjacking in Orangeburg on May 14, 2017. The serial number of the firearm had been burned in an attempt to obliterate it; however, law enforcement was able to restore the serial number and determined that it had been stolen during the theft of a car in Orangeburg on May 15, 2017. A ballistics examination of the firearm matched it to the fired bullet recovered from one of the officer’s bulletproof vest and to a May 16, 2017, shooting incident in Orangeburg.
James is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon an April 2017 Orangeburg conviction for burglary 3rd degree for which he received a probationary sentence. At the time of the instant offense, James was on state probation and out on state bond for an unrelated Richland County state charge stemming from a March 2017 incident.
James faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release on the felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Cayce Department of Public Safety, the Columbia Police Department, and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) 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. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority and reinstituted PSN nationwide. Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.