KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for illegally possessing several firearms, including the firearm used in a drive-by shooting.
Eric L. Harper, 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to five years and six months- in federal prison without parole. Today’s sentence reflects an upward variance from the recommended federal sentencing guidelines due to Harper’s connection to a shooting that occurred 41 days prior to his arrest.
On Aug. 7, 2020, Harper pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Harper has a 2014 state felony conviction for an attempted robbery in which he shot the victim in the back four times.
According to court documents, a black Dodge Charger – later identified as belonging to Harper – followed the victim, who had been given a ride from work on the evening of Feb. 22, 2019, to a residence in the 1700 block of East 80th Street in Kansas City. A witness told police officers they saw the black Charger with tinted windows parked nearby when they were leaving work. As they drove from work, the Charger followed them. When they arrived at the residence, the victim got out of the car and started to walk up to the house. The witness told investigators he heard and saw gunfire coming from the Charger. The witness fled the area in his car, with the Charger following him. Eventually, the witness told investigators, he lost sight of the Charger.
Police officers were called to the residence and noticed multiple bullet holes in the front door and along the exterior wall of the house. They also noticed bullet holes and fragments inside the house, including the foyer area and the kitchen. The victim was transported to a local hospital and officers recovered two .45-caliber shell casings from the scene. Investigators spoke with the victim at the hospital. Hospital staff advised detectives that the victim was in critical but stable condition and would need to undergo surgery to remove a bullet.
Investigators retrieved surveillance video from a nearby business that captured the license plate of the Charger and they were able to identify Harper as the owner of the vehicle.
On April 4, 2019, Harper and two other individuals were stopped by law enforcement while traveling in Harper’s Charger. Harper had been seen by law enforcement shooting two handguns and a semi-automatic rifle at a firing range in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Officers seized from Harper’s car an American Tactical Omni-Hybrid AR .223-caliber rifle, loaded with 21 rounds in an extended magazine; a Glock .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun, loaded with one round in the chamber and 26 rounds in an extended magazine; and a Glock .357-caliber semi-automatic handgun, loaded with one round in the chamber and 12 rounds in the magazine. Harper admitted that he had fired the weapons at the range, and that he had shot multiple firearms at the range on several occasions.
The Kansas City Police Crime Laboratory compared shell casing recovered from the scene of the shooting on Feb. 22, 2019, and determined that one of the shell casings had been fired from the Glock .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun recovered from Harper on April 4, 2019.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods is an evidence-based program that identifies the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develops comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, Project Safe Neighborhoods focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.