A 32-year-old man was sentenced Monday to serve nearly 10 years in prison for unlawful possession of ammunition, more specifically two shotgun shells that authorities believed to be related to a 2012 drive-by shooting.
Alfred Laquann “Merc” Thomas, of Rome, New York, will spend the next 115 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, the Justice Department announced.
Following a drive-by shooting in Syracuse, New York, on Aug. 16, 2012, Thomas, who is a previously convicted felon, was found to be in possession of two 12-gauge shotgun shells. Authorities discovered the shells in his pants pocket, as well as two spent shotgun shells in the back seat of his car.
Thomas was identified by witnesses as a suspect in the drive-by shooting. Witnesses also reported seeing Thomas’ car. A 12-gauge shotgun was also used in the crime.
Thomas pleaded guilty on Dec. 23, 2016, to being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition.
However, it was an unrelated murder case that sparked further interest in the 2012 shooting investigation and ultimately led to Thomas’ conviction.
Thomas was previously accused of a September 2014 murder in an unrelated case in Syracuse, but was eventually acquitted of the charges. However, after his acquittal, Thomas reportedly took to Facebook and admitted to that murder. Thomas later made the same admissions to federal agents.
Upon his admission and in light of federal law violations, authorities with the FBI and ATF made the decision to revisit the 2012 shooting case, which led to Thomas’ current charges.
United States District Judge Brenda Sannes took into account Thomas’ extensive criminal history, as well as the confession of the 2014 murder, when handing down his sentence.
“People like Mr. Thomas terrorize and destroy our communities through violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Vadim D. Thomas. “Today’s sentencing is the result of countless hours of hard work and dedication, and the FBI, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate individuals who jeopardize the safety of our communities through gun violence.”