Man who attempted to murder SC trooper sentenced to federal prison

Video shows William Bernard Wright discharged at least 12 rounds at a SC Trooper during a...
Video shows William Bernard Wright discharged at least 12 rounds at a SC Trooper during a traffic stop in 2019.(York County Sheriff's Office)
Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 8:09 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Gaffney man who shot a South Carolina Highway Patrolman in 2019 has been sentenced to federal prison.

Officials say William Bernard Wright, a/k/a “Willie” Wright, a/k/a “Quentin Mitchell,” 28, of Gaffney has been sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison.

United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Wright to 98 months in federal prison, to be followed by the statutory maximum of 36 months of court-ordered supervision, following a conviction for felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Wright’s 98-month federal sentence represents the statutory maximum of 10 years with credit for 22 months’ time served on the state sentence for the same conduct, as provided for in the federal sentencing guidelines.

On December 9, 2020, Wright was sentenced to 35 years in state prison, following convictions in the state court system on four charges: attempted murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a weapon by a convicted violent felon, and failure to stop for blue lights.

Wright will serve the federal sentence concurrent to the state sentence.

Evidence presented to the U.S. District Court showed that on June 2, 2019, Wright was in possession of a FN Herstal, model Five-Seven, semi-automatic pistol and 5.7 x 28mm ammunition at a time he was prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm or ammunition based on numerous prior felony convictions.

At approximately 8:00 p.m. on June 2, Trooper Paul Wise with the South Carolina Highway Patrol was on routine patrol in York County when he observed Wright operating a vehicle without a seatbelt. When Trooper Wise attempted to initiate a traffic stop, Wright fled and failed to stop for blue lights. Wright took the trooper on a car chase before bringing his car to a stop at the end a dead of a road. Wright then exited his vehicle, drew the firearm, pointed it at close range towards the patrolman’s front windshield. Wright then discharged at least 12 rounds at Trooper Wise.

Trooper Wise was struck in his ballistic vest in the chest area and sustained other injuries to the right side of his neck. As Wright began to flee, Trooper Wise exited his vehicle, returned fire, striking Wright, ordered Wright to the ground, and then called for backup.

Evidence presented also indicated Wright had numerous convictions prior to the shooting of Trooper Wise, to include pointing and presenting a firearm (2007); assault and battery (2008); discharging a firearm within city limits and unlawful carry of a pistol (2008); resisting arrest (2011); attempted murder, attempted armed robbery, and criminal conspiracy (2013); and assault and battery – second degree (2017). Evidence presented in court indicated Wright had only been out of custody from a prior conviction for about 10 months, and that he had a history of criminal acts or misconduct while in custody and while on supervision.

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