On behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office:
Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart. announced that Eric Jahann Nixon, 39, of Columbia, was convicted Friday by a jury following a three-day trial in federal court in Columbia. Nixon was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, as well as possession of crack cocaine.
Evidence presented in court showed that at approximately 7:00 PM on Friday, October 16, 2020, Columbia Police Department officers responded to Wash City Laundromat off Broad River Road after receiving a number of 911 calls about a man brandishing a firearm and assaulting a 65-year-old female attendant at the laundromat. At the scene, officers were approached by witnesses who provided a detailed description of the man and also provided officers with a cellphone video taken of him during the incident. A screenshot of the man from that cellphone video was distributed to other officers who were canvassing the area in search of him. A short time later, an officer encountered the man walking nearby and placed him in investigative detention. During a lawful pat-down search of the man, officers recovered a loaded Hi-Point .380 caliber handgun in the man’s waistband of his shorts. A further search revealed a pill bottle containing a baggie of 3 grams of crack cocaine and a razor blade. The man was later identified as Eric Jahann Nixon. Surveillance video from the Laundromat confirmed that Nixon was the man who pulled a handgun from his waistband and assaulted the laundromat attendant.
Nixon is a felon and prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law based upon prior state and federal convictions. Nixon’s prior convictions include: possession of a stolen motor vehicle (1998, Lexington County), conspiracy to commit money laundering (2005, federal conviction in Columbia), assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (2005, Lexington County), throwing bodily fluid on correctional officer (2005, Lexington County), indecent exposure to adult (2010, federal conviction in West Virginia), forgery (2013, Lexington County), distribution of crack cocaine near a school (2016, Richland County), and unlawful carrying of a firearm (2018, Richland County).
Nixon faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release on the felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge. Due to a prior felony drug offense, Nixon faces a minimum 15 days to maximum of 2 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,500 on the possession of crack cocaine charge.
Senior United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie of Columbia presided over the trial and will impose sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the United States Probation Office. According to court filings, the sentencing is scheduled for July 13, 2021.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Columbia Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes. Witnesses at trial also included representatives from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon, & Parole Services, the Lexington County Clerk of Court’s Office, the United States Probation Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.