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Published on June 21, 2024
Tampa Gang Member Sentenced to Maximum 15 Years for Firearm Possession and Planning AttacksSource: Unsplash/ Carles Rabada

In a recent legal development in Tampa, Antonio McCray, a 22-year-old confirmed gang member, has been handed a 15-year sentence in federal prison for firearm possession and planning violence, which is the severest penalty permitted by law for his crimes; this sentence comes following his guilty plea on November 14, 2023, as reported by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Evidence brought forth during the sentencing revealed that McCray's involvement with the "2x" gang included orchestrating an attack against rivals, moreover, during the attempted hit McCray and his associates shot into a home where two children were inside, with one bullet entering the bedroom of a 9-year-old girl, no one was injured in the attack, but the intent had been made clear and the violence demonstrated McCray's disregard for innocent lives.

A routine traffic stop by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on October 29, 2022, led to McCray's capture when officers found him in possession of a Hellcat Pistol; subsequent forensic analysis linked this firearm to shell casings from the scene of the shooting, despite his previous felony convictions which legally barred him from having a firearm or ammunition.

Further incriminating material was discovered on McCray’s cell phone, including text messages where he threatened violence against a debtor's son and grandmother unless a drug debt was paid, "Listen bra if u care about ur son an ur grandma have my money by Thursday...or I’m coming for u and ur family...I’ll be at ur house tonight...Im torture ur grandma, u don’t know who u playing with," one text message revealed his menacing approach towards those who crossed him, according to U.S. Attorney's Office.

This case is part of the larger Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, a nationwide collaboration aiming to reduce violent crime and gun violence in the community, and has recently been updated to encourage community engagement and strategic law enforcement efforts to prevent crime before it occurs. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, carried out this investigation, while Assistant United States Attorney Diego F. Novaes led the prosecution.