(STL.News) – A Springfield, Missouri, man who pointed a loaded pistol at police officers during a car and foot chase was sentenced in federal court today for illegally possessing a firearm.
Matthew D. Billingslea, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to nine years in federal prison without parole.
On Sept. 11, 2019, Billingslea pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A Springfield police officer attempted to stop Billingslea, who was driving a Ford Taurus, for having an inoperable headlight and rear-license-plate lamp at the intersection of Campbell Avenue and Battlefield Road near midnight on Dec. 7, 2018. When the officer activated his patrol vehicle’s lights, Billingslea refused to stop and accelerated away. Another officer located the vehicle and attempted to stop Billingslea, but he fled again. The officer soon found the Taurus, abandoned by Billingslea, in the front yard of a residence on South Roanoke Avenue.
A few minutes later, another officer located Billingslea walking north on Jefferson Avenue. When the officer asked Billingslea to take his hand out of his pocket, Billingslea was holding a loaded Kel-Tec .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
Billingslea pointed the firearm at the officer and yelled, “Don’t do it!” The officer took cover behind his patrol vehicle, and Billingslea hid behind a vehicle parked in the driveway of a residence on South Jefferson Avenue. Billingslea then rose from behind the vehicle and again, pointed the firearm at the officer and yelled, “Don’t do it!” Billingslea then fled through a fence on the north side of the residence and south through a back yard.
Officers used a police service canine to track Billingslea to the back yard of a residence located on South Jefferson Avenue. The service canine bit Billingslea’s right arm; he was holding the firearm in his left hand. An officer ordered Billingslea to drop the firearm and he refused. During the confrontation, Billingslea dropped the firearm, which was seized by an officer.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Billingslea has 23 prior misdemeanors and four prior felony convictions (including two firearms offenses). At the time of his arrest in this case, Billingslea was on probation for pointing a stolen firearm at the mother of one of his children.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nhan D. Nguyen. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.
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.