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By Teddy Kulmala The State

COLUMBIA, SC — A man who shot two Cayce police officers after a car chase that went into Columbia last year pleaded guilty to a federal charge in connection with the shootings, according to officials.

Eugene Jonathan James, 20, of Orangeburg, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday. U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Childs accepted the plea and will sentence James at a later date. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

James was driving a stolen car that two Cayce Public Safety officers saw speeding on Knox Abbott Drive around 12:30 a.m. on May 27, 2017, prosecutors said. The car did not stop, and a chase ensued, eventually crossing the Blossom Street bridge into Columbia.

The car eventually stopped near Williams Street, not far from Founders Park, police said at the time. The driver, later identified as James, ran into the woodline just off the riverwalk and “assumed a crouched position, which appeared to the officers to be lying in wait for them,” the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office states.

After threatening to use his Taser to get James to comply, one of the officers heard gunshots and felt pain, the release states. He had been shot in the chest and leg, and the second officer was shot in the leg. Both officers returned fire and called for backup.

Responding officers found James in the wood line with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, prosecutors said. The serial number on the gun had been burned in an attempt to obliterate it; however, authorities were able to restore the serial number and determine that the gun was stolen during the theft of a car in Orangeburg several days earlier.

The car James was driving also had been reported stolen during a carjacking in Orangeburg before the shooting, prosecutors said.

An April 2017 conviction for third-degree burglary in Orangeburg prohibited James from possessing a firearm. He also was on probation and out on bond for an unrelated charge in Richland County stemming from a March 2017 incident, according to the release.

In addition to the charges that were already pending in Richland County before his latest arrest, James faces additional state charges from the shootings that include two counts of attempted murder, possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person convicted of a violent felony, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, possession of a stolen handgun and possession of a stolen vehicle, according to Richland County court records.

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