Columbia native James Earl Sanders Jr., 31, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to two felony counts of possessing firearms.

Sanders, 31, had felony convictions for burglary and attempted robbery prior to both firearm arrests, which occurred in 2018.

“Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition," stated a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jefferson City.

On July 24, 2018, Sanders was seen by Columbia police riding a reported stolen Yamaha Zuma 50cc scooter into the Steak ’n Shake restaurant. Sanders was carrying a Taurus semiautomatic handgun that also was reported stolen, the press release said.

Sanders resisted arrest and ran but was subdued and placed under arrest when a second officer pointed a Taser at him. 

Just two months later, on Sept. 30, 2018, Jefferson City police attempted to stop Sanders for speeding. Despite emergency lights being signaled, Sanders accelerated his Mercury Cougar. He struck a tree after losing control of the vehicle. When the officer approached his vehicle, Sanders threw a loaded Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol out of his window, the press release said.

Sanders was placed under arrest. 

For each felony conviction, Sanders faces up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing is pending.

Supervising editor is Fred Anklam.

  • Community reporter, fall 2019 studying Magazine Publishing and Management Journalism Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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