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Columbia man convicted of attempted murder of police officer, related charges

LANCASTER — A Columbia man charged with shooting at police officers last summer was convicted Wednesday by a Lancaster County jury.

Marquell Rentas, 18, was found guilty of counts of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer, conspiracy, assault of a law-enforcement officer and reckless endangerment.

According to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, the jury returned not-guilty verdicts regarding two other officers who testified that they felt they were fired upon.

Testimony in the case ended at midday on Tuesday. The jury deliberated for six hours over two days.

Police say Rentas fired several shots from a high-powered rifle on July 29, 2016, from a perch at the second-floor window of a home on the 100 block of Bethel Street.

In his closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson told jurors that Rentas admitted to firing the shots during his arrest, allegedly proclaiming “I was shooting at you.”

Later, Rentas allegedly told a detective, “I hate (expletive) cops,” Anderson told the jury.

“Why would (Rentas) say that?” Anderson asked the jurors rhetorically. “If it were not true?”

The jury started deliberations Tuesday about 3 p.m., after instructions on the law from Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker.

In a seven-minute closing argument, Rentas’ defense lawyer claimed he was not aiming at police and is only guilty of reckless endangerment.

During the two-day trial, Anderson called the three officers who were fired upon and other police who investigated, including Columbia police Detective Matthew Leddy, who interviewed Rentas hours after the incident.

The three officers testified they heard shots and heard bullets strike objects around them.

Anderson argued that just because Rentas did not wound any of the officers does not mean he did not intend to.

“It’s a blessing for everybody that he missed,” Anderson said. “We shouldn’t credit him for his lack of marksmanship.”

Detective Leddy filed charges.

Charges also were filed against 18-year-old Trenton Nace, who was with Rentas in the upstairs room as the shooting happened.