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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
Roger B. Handberg, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, March 22, 2024

Convicted Felon in Brandon Road Rage Shooting Sentenced to 8 Years in Federal Prison

Tampa, Fla. — U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Barber has sentenced James Eugene Smith, 44, of Wimauma, to eight years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The court also ordered Smith to forfeit the firearm and ammunition. Smith entered a guilty plea on Dec. 18, 2023.

According to court documents, in the early morning hours of Jan. 14, 2023, Smith was driving west on Bloomingdale Avenue in Brandon. Smith believed that a driver in a black sedan was brake checking (applying brakes and causing the following vehicle to slow down) him, while a separate driver prevented Smith from passing. Smith eventually passed both cars using the bi-directional center lane before brake checking the black sedan in return. The driver of the black sedan eventually drove around Smith. Smith and the driver of the black sedan then exchanged gunfire.

Smith, in an alleged attempt to see the tag of the black sedan, made a U-turn. After making the U-turn, Smith spotted a gray sedan that he thought was the black sedan. Smith opened fire, endangering the lives of the two victims – the driver and a passenger in the front seat. The gray sedan then turned into a gas station. Smith followed the vehicle into the gas station, again firing at it. Neither victim was shot. At the time of the incident, Smith had multiple prior felony convictions. As a convicted felon Smith is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.

Car with bullet hole in driver window

Car with bullet hole in passenger door

This case was investigated by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael R. Kenneth. The forfeiture is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Muench.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.


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