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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Virginia
Christopher R. Kavanaugh, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 5, 2023

Salem Man Involved in Lynchburg Shootout Pleads Guilty

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A Salem, Virginia man who was involved in a shootout in Lynchburg during a methamphetamine deal in November 2021, pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court to a pair of federal charges.

Jeriwon Lee Taylor, 42, pled guilty this week to one count of distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of discharging and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

“This case is a direct result of the United States Attorney’s Office’s public commitment to prosecute federal crimes involving a discharged firearm. We will continue to vigilantly enforce our nation’s gun laws to hold accountable those individuals who commit violent acts in our community,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “I am grateful we have collaborative partnerships with agencies like the Lynchburg Police Department, DEA, and ATF to help us continue this important work in helping make our communities safer.”

“It is clear that drug traffickers have no respect for human lives and conduct criminal business in the open public, disregarding the damage they can cause to human life or property. Thanks to the combined efforts of our local law enforcement partners, subsequent search warrants were executed at locations associated with Taylor’s Drug Trafficking Organization that resulted in the seizure of fentanyl, heroin, fake pills, methamphetamine and the retrieval of the firearm used in the shooting. We will continue our efforts aimed at disrupting and stopping these illegal endeavors,” said Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Washington Division.

“There is no place for this type of behavior in Lynchburg. This case sends a very clear message that the illegal use of firearms and related drug activity will not be tolerated,” Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema said today. “We will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute those responsible for the distribution of illegal narcotics and those who choose to commit violent acts in our community, to the fullest extent of the law.”

“When we as law enforcement professionals collaborate effectively, our communities see tangible results such as this,” ATF Washington Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Weddel said. “We will continue to work alongside our partners to disrupt the illegal possession of firearms, distribution of narcotics and other acts of violence that negatively impact public safety.”

According to court documents, on November 21, 2021, Taylor arranged to meet an individual in a Walmart parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia to sell methamphetamine. When the buyer, Kendall Simonton arrived, he got into Taylor’s vehicle, pointed a gun at Taylor’s face and took the drugs from him.

After the robbery, Simonton left Taylor’s vehicle and began walking away. However, Taylor also got out of his vehicle with a firearm, and the two men began shooting at each other. Both Taylor and Simonton fired multiple shots at each other, ducking behind various cars in the parking lot. Eventually, Simonton ran out of the parking lot and Taylor drove away.

Simonton pled guilty last month to related charges and will be sentenced June 8, 2023.

At sentencing, Taylor faces a minimum sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Lynchburg Police Department, with assistance from the Virginia State Police, investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Jones is prosecuting the case.

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