For Immediate Release
Gaston Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearms and Ammunition Charges
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Warren Dominique McDaniel, age 28, of Gaston, South Carolina pled guilty as charged today in federal court. McDaniel plead guilty to two (2) counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e). McDaniel plead straight up to both charges in the federal indictment without a plea agreement. United States District Judge Michelle Childs accepted the plea and will impose a sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on July 22, 2010, officers with the Columbia Police Department executed a state search warrant at a Columbia residence following the controlled purchase of a small amount of marijuana from a male inside the residence. During a search of the residence, officers recovered a Romarm 7.62x39mm rifle with a 30-round high capacity magazine, a Taurus .45 caliber pistol, rounds of .45 caliber ammunition, a digital scale, a box of ziplock bags, and a marijuana blunt. McDaniel, who lived at the residence at the time, admitted that the guns and marijuana belonged to him and that he bought the guns off the street because he was a felon. McDaniel was charged by state authorities and plead guilty to simple possession of marijuana and paid a fine. Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing today further established that on April 12, 2014, officers with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department responded to a shooting at a birthday party in Gaston, South Carolina and found that a 7 year-old female had been shot and killed and a 5 year-old male had been shot in the arm. The investigation revealed that during the party, McDaniel’s girlfriend had unlocked the trunk of McDaniel’s vehicle to allow a child to retrieve a toy. Unbeknownst to her, while looking for the toy, the child found a loaded FEG 7.62x39mm rifle with a 30-round high capacity magazine in the trunk of the vehicle and pulled the trigger, causing the rifle to fire while inside the trunk, striking the other two (2) children who were standing outside the vehicle. The investigation revealed that the firearm belonged to McDaniel, who admitted that he had purchased it off the street approximately 4 ½ years earlier. McDaniel further admitted that he sold marijuana and that he kept the gun for protection.
The investigation revealed that McDaniel is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and/or ammunition based upon his prior state convictions for unlawful carrying of a weapon (two separate counts), possession of a stolen pistol, possession of marijuana, possession of a stolen pistol, possession of less than 1 gram of crack cocaine, giving false information, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and simple possession of marijuana.
Mr. Nettles stated that McDaniel faces a statutory maximum sentence of ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years following the term of imprisonment. However, if McDaniel were found to have three (3) prior violent felony convictions and/or serious drug convictions, he would be deemed an armed career criminal under federal law and face a statutory mandatory minimum of fifteen (15) years imprisonment with a maximum of life, a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to five (5) years following the term of imprisonment.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, and the Columbia Police Department, 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.