Crime & Courts

Columbia fisherman jumped in river when asked what was in a bag. It wasn’t fish

A Columbia man is going to prison after he was convicted Tuesday on gun charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Tyrone Mayes was fishing when he was caught with a stolen 9mm handgun, but the 28-year-old tried to hide the evidence, U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon said in a news release.

On Oct. 15, 2017, Mayes was fishing on the Santee River in Calhoun County when a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officer approached his boat for a safety inspection, according to a news release.

The DNR officer asked to look for fish inside of a drawstring bag that Mayes was holding. Rather then let the officer see the bag, Mayes jumped into the river and dumped the bag into the water, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

While Mayes was detained, a dive team found the bag following a 2½ hour search, and discovered that its contents were not fish, according to the release. Instead, a loaded gun, ammunition digital scales, and a cell phone were found inside the bag, court records show.

The gun turned out to be stolen, and Mayes confessed to being in possession of the weapon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Prior to this incident, Mayes was convicted of multiple felonies in South Carolina — second-degree burglary (2006), grand larceny (2010), and 2 counts of attempted murder (2013) — making it illegal for him to have guns or ammunition, according to the release.

He pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and was sentenced to four years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Mayes will not be eligible for parole until his full sentence is served, and he faces two years of post-release supervision, according to the release.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.