On behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office – District of South Carolina:
Columbia, South Carolina —- Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced that Leonard Earl Mitchell, 30, of Columbia, has entered a guilty plea in federal court to being a felon in possession of ammunition. United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented in court established that, on May 23, 2020, after receiving reports of shots fired on Two Notch Road, officers from the City of Columbia Police Department located nine 9mm spent shell casings in a business’ parking lot. While reviewing the surveillance footage, the officers saw that an unknown person discharged two rounds in the direction of Mitchell, as he was exiting the business. Realizing that he was being shot at, Mitchell sought cover near a car in the parking lot, then retrieved a 9mm firearm off his person and discharged 10 rounds at a car traveling northbound on Two Notch Road. After the shooting incident, Mitchell fled from the parking lot.
A City of Columbia police officer was able to identify Mitchell as the person involved in the shooting from a prior encounter with him, as well as from Mitchell’s distinctive facial tattoos.
On June 4, 2020, Mitchell was arrested in his home on other warrants. At the time of his arrest, he had a 9mm pistol on his person that ballistically matched the 9 shell casings found in the business parking lot.
Mitchell has previously been convicted of several felony offenses including Failure to Stop for Blue Lights and Siren, Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature, Assault and Battery 2nd Degree, Distribution of Marijuana, Assault and Battery, 1st Degree, Possession of Methamphetamine/Cocaine, and Carrying or Concealing Weapon by Inmates. As such, Mitchell is prohibited from possessing a firearm and/or ammunition.
The maximum penalty for a felon in possession of ammunition is imprisonment for 10 years and/or a fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the City of Columbia Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney William K. Witherspoon is prosecuting the case, as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases.