EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A man was sentenced on Tuesday to eight years in prison for having a gun that had been modified to work as an automatic weapon with a 50-round drum magazine. The gun was linked to three shootings, one of which was fatal. Derron Smith-Johnson, 28, pled guilty to unlawful possession of a pistol by a felon and unlawful possession of a machine gun due to the firearm’s automatic switch.
His gun was legal, but the switch Smith-Johnson used to convert the gun to an automatic weapon was not. His Glock 23 is a 40-caliber pistol with a switch that makes it work like an automatic rifle and a magazine that can hold 23 live bullets. Agents also discovered, in a bedroom drawer, a 50-round drum magazine loaded with 50 live rounds.
Smith-Johnson’s fingerprints were found on the Glock 23 weapon, which was eventually linked to the three shootings and the homicide through ballistics comparisons. Based on lab results, the same gun was used in three shootings and a homicide during February 2022. The crimes happened within a week of each other, and a silver GMC Acadia was used in both of them.
Investigators used camera footage during the investigation to determine who Smith-Johnson was. Agents then headed to a Belleville, Illinois, apartment where he was known to stay. Smith-Johnson was taken into custody soon after the police arrived, and the homeowner gave permission for the house to be searched.