An Orangeburg man will spend 20 years in state prison for trying to kill two Cayce police officers. After that, he’ll spend an additional 10 years in federal prison.
Eugene Jonathon James, 23, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in the Lexington County Courthouse to two counts of attempted murder and one count each of failure to stop for blue lights, possession of a stolen pistol, possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a violent felony, possession of a stolen vehicle and speeding, according to the office of S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Circuit Judge Debra R. McCaslin sentenced James to a negotiated 20-year sentence, which will run consecutive to the 10-year federal sentence he received in April 2019 for unlawfully being in possession of a pistol.
Each of James’ charges stem from his May 27, 2017 encounter with two Cayce police officers.
At approximately 12:36 a.m., Sgt. Evan Antley and Officer Roy Barr attempted to make a traffic stop on a vehicle they saw speeding down Knox Abbott Drive in Cayce.
The vehicle fled and officers chased it across the Blossom Street Bridge and into Columbia.
At one point, the driver of the vehicle appeared to stop, but when officers approached, the vehicle took off again.
The vehicle stopped near the Riverwalk where James, the only occupant in the vehicle, disregarded officers’ commands for him to stop.
According to Wilson’s office, “James jumped out of the stolen car and ran down a footpath on the Riverwalk before jumping into the brush and waiting in the ditch for the officers to approach. Once James was spotted by the officers, he began firing at them with a stolen pistol. Both officers were able to return fire, but each received non-fatal gunshot wounds.”
James was arrested in a wooded area with a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson at his feet. James had also been shot, according to Wilson’s office.
Further investigation revealed the car James was driving was 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, but it was determined that the gun had been stolen during the theft of a Jeep in Orangeburg on May 15, 2017.
A ballistics examination of the firearm matched it to the fired bullet recovered from an officer’s bulletproof vest and to a May 16, 2017, shooting incident in Orangeburg.
Federal law prohibits James from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon an April 2017 conviction in Orangeburg for third-degree burglary.
Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein sentenced James under the Youthful Offender Act not to exceed five years, suspended to two years of probation.
At the time of the Cayce incident, James was also out on bond for unrelated armed robbery and weapon charges stemming from a March 2017 incident in Richland County.
During the sentencing hearing on the federal charge, the court heard from one of the officers who was shot and from the officer’s wife.
His wife said, “As a law enforcement officer’s spouse, we know the risks our loved ones take when they strap on their body armor and kiss us on the way out of the door. We know that may be the last kiss. We pray for their safety and their safe return home.
“As a spouse, we dread phone calls in the middle of the night and knocks on the door – especially when our loved ones are working. My nightmare became reality with one simple phone call.”
U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs sentenced James to the statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison for the federal weapons charge. There is no parole in the federal system.
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