After a traffic stop uncovered a black .40-caliber pistol behind his seat, a felon told deputies he needed the gun for protection because he was a Crip and the Bloods were going to kill him. The 26-year-old Newberry man is now facing a federal gun count that could send him to prison for a decade.
Zachary Shakur Stephens was arrested Tuesday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on a federal criminal complaint charging him with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, a charge that stems from an early morning traffic stop on Halloween detailed in an affidavit.
When officers stopped the vehicle he was in at 2 a.m. for having a broken tail light, he was already out on bond on charges of drug and weapon possession and lying to officers.
A Newberry County deputy walked up to the passenger window, and after talking with the man for a few minutes, he noticed the smell of marijuana. He asked Stephens who had been smoking pot inside the car.
Stephens answered: “Nobody.”
The deputy asked Stephens and the driver to step out of the vehicle, then he attempted to handcuff Stephens. A struggle ensued that put the deputy and the 26-year-old into the roadway in the area of U.S. 76 and Spring Branch Road.
After the deputy deployed his Taser twice, successfully making contact with Stephens once, the man broke away and ran, with the officer following him through brush, across train tracks, a yard and Spring Branch Road before Stephens lost him in a wooded area. A second deputy arrived at the scene and the two lawmen were able to capture the man after he reemerged from the woods and tried to make a run for it.
Inside the champagne-colored Chrysler Pacifica, authorities found a .40-caliber Glock with a high-capacity magazine and 12 rounds. After a short trip to Newberry County Memorial Hospital to have Taser prongs removed, Stephens was taken to the county jail and quizzed about why he smelled like marijuana.
He denied having the substance, telling officers, “I only had that little gun.”
He told deputies a relative had gotten him the firearm so he could protect himself when he visits his son, who lives in “Blood gang territory,” the affidavit said. “Stephens said that he is a Crips gang member and needed a firearm because the Bloods were going to kill him.”
He had only had the gun for a day, he said.
Stephens was charged with assault, beat, or wound police officer serving process or while resisting arrest and sale or delivery of pistol to, and possession by, certain persons unlawful. Stephens was released after a bondsman posted $50,000 bail. Those counts are still pending in state court.
On the latest count, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn Austin on Friday ordered he be detained without bail.
He has a past conviction for strong-arm robbery.