Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Man Sentenced to Additional 300 Months (25 Years) for Shooting Federal Agent
Contact Person: Stacey D. Haynes (803) 929-3000
Columbia, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that James William Lewis, a/k/a “Jessie,” a/k/a “Phoenix,” age 33, of Kings Mountain, North Carolina was sentenced to 300 months (25 years) imprisonment today in federal court. In August 2015, Lewis plead guilty to a 2nd/subsequent offense of use/possession/discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, to wit: assault on a federal agent, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) and 924(c)(1)(C). Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. imposed the sentence, which will run consecutive to the 9 year sentence that Lewis is currently serving for an armed robbery offense in the Western District of North Carolina. After serving the term of imprisonment, Lewis will be on federal supervised release for 5 years.
Evidence presented at the earlier change of plea hearing established that during the early morning hours of January 7, 2014, deputized task force agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Charlotte Safe Streets Task Force/Violent Crime Apprehension Team were in Fort Mill, South Carolina searching for Lewis, who was wanted for a December 2013, armed robbery of a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant in North Carolina. Agents, in police attire and accompanied by York County Sheriff’s Department officers in marked units, approached the residence of Lewis’ girlfriend, Kirstie Elaine Philome Barratt, age 22, in an attempt to determine if Lewis was in the residence. After approximately 15 minutes of the agents knocking on the door and announcing their presence with a loud speaker, Barratt came to the door. Barratt, who was advised by agents that it was a crime to make a false statement to federal agents, told the agents that Lewis was not in the home, that she had not seen him for 2 months because they had broken up, and that the only other persons in the residence were her parents. Barratt gave the agents consent to search the residence. Upon completing a sweep of the residence, agents located Barratt’s parents asleep in one upstairs bedroom and noticed the door shut to another upstairs bedroom. Agents could hear a dog barking in that other upstairs bedroom, so they asked Barratt to secure the dog so they could search the bedroom. Barratt opened the bedroom door, went in and came out with the dog, shutting the door behind her. Agents then went into the bedroom and found Lewis crouched in the corner with his weapon drawn. Gunfire ensued and an FBI task force agent was shot 3 times by Lewis, who was also shot in the legs. Both Barratt and Lewis were taken into custody. Barratt later advised agents that she knew Lewis was in the residence, that she knew he was wanted for the robbery, that she thought he was going to hide in the attic, and that when she entered the bedroom to retrieve the dog, she saw him in the corner holding the gun, but did not tell the agents before allowing them to enter the bedroom. After being taken into custody, Lewis waived his rights and admitted to telling his girlfriend that it was going to end up in a shootout with officers. Lewis also admitted that he and his girlfriend’s plan was for him to hide in the attic, but he decided that he didn’t want to hide “like a puppy,” so he positioned himself in the bedroom with his gun drawn because he wanted to be shot. Lewis admitted that when the officers entered the bedroom, he had his gun pointed at the officer and that the officer had a right to shoot him.
On October 22, 2014, Barratt plead guilty to making a false statement to a federal agent, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. At Barratt’s sentencing on December 15, 2014, the court granted the government’s motion for an upward departure from the federal guidelines sentencing range of 0 to 6 months, noting that this was a “rare” case and that Barratt “knowingly placed a law enforcement officer’s life in jeopardy” by her false statement. Barratt was sentenced to 24 months (2 years) imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
In July 2015, Lewis was sentenced to 108 months (9 years) in federal court in the Western District of North Carolina for the December 2013, robbery of the Jack-in-the-Box restaurant and possession of a firearm during that crime of violence, to wit: robbery. As noted above, Lewis’ 300 months (25 year) sentence will run consecutive to the North Carolina federal sentence. Lewis also has prior North Carolina state convictions for possession of cocaine (1999) and larceny of a motor vehicle (2000).
The case was investigated by the FBI, the York County Sheriff’s Department, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.