By Joe Johnson
An Athens man with a violent criminal history who shot at two people attempting to repossess a car, then led police on a high-speed chase two years ago was sentenced in federal court last week to the maximum prison term under federal guidelines for illegally possessing a firearm, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
Ceddrick Demon “Stunt” Mercery, 30, was sentenced Nov. 9 in Athens federal court to serve 120 months, or 10 years, in prison by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal, after having pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
There is no parole in the federal penal system. "Prosecuting repeat offenders who are responsible for the greatest gun violence in our communities is our office's highest priority," U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in the news release. "Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold convicted felons with violent pasts accountable at the federal level when they possess, or especially use, a firearm."
“Ceddrick Mercery is a career violent offender who is now removed from the streets of Athens and our community is safer for it," Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Jerry Saulters said. “I want to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI for their assistance in this case. "It is important that we continue to work with our state and federal partners to make Athens safe."
According to court documents and an ACCPD report, the assault on the repo men occurred on Sept. 23, 2020 on Loblolly Drive, where the repo men used GPS to locate a 2011 Honda Accord owned by a woman who was unaware the vehicle was going to be repossessed.
After tracking the car to locations in Athens where the repo men felt unsafe, they reportedly found the car parked for a period of time outside a Loblolly Drive residence, and as they approached the car, someone in the vehicle started it up.
One of the men yelled at the driver that they were there to repossess the car, at which time the car sped off, nearly striking the repo men who had to jump out of the way, according to the police report.
As the car drove toward Freeman Drive, it made a wide right turn and stopped near the beginning of the road, where the driver rolled down the passenger side window and fired a gun three times at the repo men, who dived for cover, according to the report.
One of the repo men was able to give police a location of the car, but when officers in marked units made contact with the vehicle it sped onto Commerce Road to Dr. Martin Luther King Parkway and into the Bethel Midtown Village off College Avenue, where the driver abandoned it, according to the report, which noted that mail addressed to Mercery was located in the car, along with what appeared to be heroin and methamphetamine and drug-related objects.
Police later recovered three .40-caliber cartridge casings, the report noted, and the following day they located in front of a College Avenue apartment building a loaded .40 caliber pistol, which was along the route Mercery had driven.
Ballistic tests later determined the gun was the same one used in the shooting.
Three days after the incident, ACCPD officers and FBI agents tracked Mercery to an apartment on Berlin Street, where officers, including a K-9 unit and members of the Strategic Response Team, surrounded the house and made phone contact with occupants of the home.
The occupants, including Mercery, complied with commands to come out and Mercery was arrested without incident, according to a police incident report.
Agents found inside the apartment a loaded Glock .40 caliber pistol with an extended magazine and a laser sight, according to court documents, which indicated that Mercery's cellphone was also located, broken and in a toilet.
Mercery has a lengthy criminal history which prohibits him from possessing a firearm, including prior felony convictions for hit and run, possession of cocaine and aggravated stalking.
“Career criminals who carry guns are a threat to the safety of our neighborhoods,” Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta said in a released statement. “This case is another example of how the FBI and our law enforcement partners in the Project Safe Neighborhoods program are dedicated to keeping the sanctity and security of our communities a priority.” Project Safe Neighborhoods is a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence to make neighborhoods safer.
This case was investigated by the FBI Athens Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force, Northeast Georgia Regional Drug Task Force and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department Gang Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Morrison prosecuted the case.