Columbia Man Receives Maximum Federal Prison Sentence for Firearm and Drug Charges

ammunition or rounds for a gun or a firearm, shooting ammo

Columbia, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced that Eric Jahann Nixon, 39, of Columbia, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on firearm and drug charges, after having been convicted following a three-day trial in April.  Nixon was convicted on 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 7pm 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, identified as Eric Jahann Nixon, walking nearby and placed him in investigative detention.  During a lawful pat-down search of Nixon, 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.

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Surveillance video from the Laundromat confirmed that Nixon was the man who pulled a handgun from his waistband and assaulted the laundromat attendant, as well as pointed the firearm at others in the parking lot.

Nixon is a felon and prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law based upon prior state and federal convictions. Nixon’s prior adult convictions include: possession of a stolen motor vehicle (1998 in Lexington County), conspiracy to commit money laundering (2005 federal conviction in Columbia), assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (2005 in Lexington County), throwing bodily fluid on correctional officer (2005 in Lexington County), indecent exposure to adult while in the Federal Bureau of Prisons in West Virginia (2010 federal conviction), forgery (2013 in Lexington County), distribution of crack cocaine near a school (2016 in Richland County), driving under the influence, (2016 in Calhoun County), and unlawful carrying of a pistol, stemming from a shooting outside of a Waffle House (2018 in Richland County). 

During the sentencing hearing, in addition to hearing a summary of Nixon’s prior criminal history since age 12, the court was presented evidence showing that, since being in custody on these charges, Nixon had accumulated dozens of disciplinary violations within the local detention center, including possessing a handmade weapon and threatening correctional officers.  On one occasion, Nixon told a female correctional officer, “Bitch, when you write me up, I’m going to know your whole name. I will shoot your head off, blow your brains out. I will have your whole family dead by tonight, you better ask about me. Bitch, I’m important.” On another occasion, Nixon told a correctional officer that he has beat all his cases and that he will beat this one and google her to blow her head off and kill her kids.  The court was also presented evidence outlining the numerous disciplinary violations Nixon accumulated while in federal prison on an earlier federal conviction.

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Senior United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie sentenced Nixon to the maximum of 120 months imprisonment on the firearm charge and the maximum of 24 months on the possession of crack cocaine charge, with those sentences to be served concurrently with one another.  Once Nixon is released from prison, he will be on federal supervised release for 3 years.  There is no parole in the federal system.  In pronouncing the sentence, the Court noted that Nixon had a “significant criminal history” and his conduct has been “out of control and inappropriate” in prison, the local detention center, and in the courtroom.

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The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Columbia Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes, 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.


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