For Immediate Release
Columbia Gang Member Sentenced to Maximum 10 Years on Federal Firearm and Ammunition Charge
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that MICHAEL JUAN SMITH, a/k/a “Flame,” a/k/a “Junior,” age 21, of Columbia, South Carolina was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) imprisonment today in federal court. Following the term of imprisonment, SMITH will be on federal supervised release for three (3) years. SMITH pled guilty on February 19, 2014, 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 Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. imposed the sentence after a contested sentencing hearing. The sentence is the maximum sentence allowed under federal law for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. SMITH still faces pending charges in state court for the actual shooting that occurred on October 13, 2013.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing in federal court established that shortly after 2:00 am on October 13, 2013, SMITH, along with several friends, was in the Five Points area of Columbia. Surveillance videos show SMITH, a gang member, and his friends walk up Harden Street towards the Library nightclub. At one point, surveillance video shows SMITH adjusting a handgun in his jacket pocket as he walks up the street, transferring it from one pocket to another. SMITH and the group return down Harden Street a short time later and after passing by the fountain area where taxis pick up customers, SMITH and his group become involved in a confrontation with another group of individuals. At this point, SMITH fires his handgun striking an innocent bystander standing in line at the taxi stand. That bystander, an 18 year old college student, was paralyzed as a result. SMITH attempted to flee the scene on foot, but was immediately apprehended on Harden Street by a Columbia Police Department officer responding to the shooting. SMITH refused demands to take his hand from his jacket pocket and a search revealed a loaded Glock .40 caliber handgun in SMITH’s front jacket pocket. At the scene, SMITH voluntarily uttered, “I did not mean to shoot.” SMITH later told officers that people shot at him and he picked up the Glock from the ground as he ran away from them. Witnesses at the scene, however, identified SMITH as the shooter. An analysis of gunshot residue from SMITH’s hand was consistent with him having fired a gun and ballistics testing determined that a .40 caliber shell casing recovered at the scene of the shooting was consistent with being fired from SMITH’S .40 caliber handgun. A check of a law enforcement database revealed that the firearm had previously been reported as stolen during a burglary in Richland County.
The investigation revealed that SMITH, who was on state probation and also on state parole at the time of the incident, is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and/or ammunition based upon his prior state conviction for attempted burglary 2nd degree of a dwelling and a separate state conviction for burglary 2nd degree.
The case was investigated by the Columbia Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.