Orangeburg man pleads to firearm charge stemming from shooting officers

Local News
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – 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, according to authorities.

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. 

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, according to the news release.

Evidence presented in court established that at approximately 12:36 a.m., 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, authorities stated.

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, the news release stated. 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.

The news release states that 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, officials added. 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.  

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