Federal prosecutors say a man has pleaded guilty to weapons charges after investigators said he shot two Cayce public safety officers during a chase last year.
20-year-old Eugene James pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He faces up to 10 years in prison and and a maximum $250,000 fine when sentenced at a later date. He still faces numerous state charges, including two attempted murder counts, for the shootings.
James was arrested after a May 2017 early morning chase in Cayce. Officers who had been running radar along a highway tried to pull over a car they said was going more than 15 miles per hour above the speed limit. However, the car did not stop and they instead pursued it into the city of Columbia.
Ultimately, the car stopped close to the Columbia Riverwalk and James fled on foot into the woods. The officers said they saw James go into a crouched position, which they assumed was lying in wait for them. One officer threatened to use his Taser to get James to comply, but said he heard gunshots and immediately felt pain. Prosecutors said that officer was shot in the chest, but avoided serious injury thanks to a bulletproof vest. The other officer was shot in his leg. Officers returned fire and shot James.
The Cayce officers said they later learned the car James had been driving was reported stolen during an Orangeburg carjacking two weeks earlier. The gun had also been stolen at the time. Ballistics tests later identified it as the same gun which fired the shots to hit the bulletproof vest.
James was already banned from possessing firearms after a conviction last year for burglary 3rd degree. He had been serving probation for that conviction at the time of the carjacking and shooting. The conviction occurred just one month before the carjacking.