A man affiliated with the white supremacist gang Ghost Face Gangsters pleaded guilty Thursday to firing a gun at a black man as he left a Macon car wash June 11.
Charles Thomas Hartness, 25, had just finished washing and detailing his car at Supa Suds when a black man drove into a neighboring car wash bay, said prosecutor Neil Halvorson.
Hartness, who had a gun, warned the man not to wet his car, Halvorson said.
The black man replied that he wouldn’t wet the car and left without washing his car, the prosecutor said.
Hartness left at about the same time, but pulled off the road, got out and fired a gun toward the other man’s car as it drove away on Forest Hill Road, Halvorson said.
Neither the fleeing man nor his car were struck by the gunfire.
He called police who were able to trace Hartness to a motel on Hartley Bridge Road where officers spotted him coming out of a room, Halvorson said.
Hartness gave the officers a false name and tried to pull a gun out of a gym bag he was carrying as they tried to arrest him. Despite being zapped by a Taser several times, Hartness struggled with the officers for control of the gun and resisted arrest, Halvorson said.
At some point during the encounter Hartness said he didn’t want to go back to prison, Halvorson said. Prison and court records show he’d served a stint for a Bulloch County drug conviction and was sentenced to probation in 2014 on a Bibb County theft charge.
The officers eventually were able to get the gun and took Harntness into custody.
Sam Hart Jr., Hartness’s lawyer, said his client didn’t intend to hurt anyone but himself that day — either by shooting himself or having the officers shoot him.
He’s had a drug problem, Hart said.
“We are very grateful that this didn’t turn out more tragically,” he said.
Hart said his client’s “loose” gang affiliation wasn’t related to the shooting incident or his struggle with police.
When police searched Hartness’s car and motel room they found an assortment of drugs and cash. The gun, which was loaded with a bullet in the chamber, had been stolen from Warner Robins, Halvorson said.
Hartness pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated assault, obstruction of an officer and violating the state’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. He was sentenced to 15 years, five of them in prison, he said.
The gang charge alleged Hartness was associated with the Ghost Face Gangsters while in possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, according to court records.
District Attorney David Cooke said anyone who engages in the kind of behavior Hartness displayed can expect to go to prison.
“He is very fortunate that the officers showed such a great amount of discipline in his arrest,” he said.