A Mason County man who held two Putnam Public Service District employees at gunpoint, stole their truck and engaged police in a multi-county pursuit will spend 30 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers handed down the sentence against Justin Michael Wilson, 20, on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in a news release Thursday.
Following a bench trial in May, Wilson was convicted of carjacking; using, carrying, and brandishing a machine gun during and in relation to a crime of violence; unlawful possession of a machine gun; and possession of an unregistered machine gun.
“These were incredibly dangerous actions that could have resulted in loss of many lives,” Stuart said.
On Jan. 11, 2018, Wilson drove a vehicle he had stolen earlier in the day in Jackson County to the Liberty Square Shopping Plaza, in Teays Valley, Stuart said in the release.
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 PSD 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.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court, Wilson told the employees it was their lucky day.
A West Virginia State Police trooper and deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department responding to calls at the shopping plaza for assistance immediately saw Wilson fleeing in the truck. Wilson engaged state troopers in another chase on I-64, during which he 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, Stuart said.
Wilson was pulled from the burning truck by a trooper and placed under arrest.
Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph F. Adams and Stephanie S. Taylor handled the prosecution.