Machine gun-toting man convicted

May 9, 2019

HUNTINGTON — A Mason County, West Virginia, man accused of threatening two employees of the Putnam Public Service District with a machine gun and stealing their company truck last year in Teays Valley was convicted Tuesday after a one-day bench trial of multiple federal offenses, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart.

Justin Michael Wilson, 20, was convicted of carjacking and using, carrying and brandishing a machine gun during and in relation to a crime of violence. Wilson also previously pleaded guilty prior to trial to unlawful possession of a machine gun and possession of an unregistered machine gun.

Wilson will be sentenced Aug. 12, and faces sentences of up to 15 years in federal prison for the carjacking conviction and up to 10 years in federal prison each for illegally possessing a machine gun and possessing an unregistered machine gun. Wilson also faces a mandatory 30-year sentence for using, carrying and brandishing a machine gun during and in relation to the carjacking.

On Jan. 11, 2018, Wilson drove a vehicle he had stolen earlier in the day in Jackson County, West Virginia, to the Liberty Square Shopping Plaza in Teays Valley. While en route to the shopping plaza, Wilson acquired a machine gun and engaged deputies in Kanawha County in a chase, eventually driving off-road and jumping his vehicle over railroad tracks to get away.

When he arrived at the shopping plaza, Wilson approached two employees of the Putnam Public Service District eating lunch in their company truck. Wilson brandished the machine gun, demanded the men transfer items from the stolen vehicle to the PSD truck, and stole the truck.

A West Virginia State Police trooper and deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department responding to calls from the shopping plaza saw Wilson fleeing in the truck. Wilson then entered Interstate 64 headed westbound and led the responding units on another high-speed chase.

During the pursuit, Wilson pointed the machine gun out of the truck at the trooper, ran vehicles off the road, crossed the median at a designated emergency vehicle crossing, traveled westbound in the eastbound lanes, exited the interstate by traveling the wrong way up the entrance ramp at Hurricane, and eventually crashed the truck, which was destroyed by fire.

Wilson was pulled from the burning truck by the trooper and placed under arrest.