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Salem man pleads guilty in Lynchburg meth deal gone bad Walmart parking-lot shootout

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

Jeriwon Lee Taylor, 42, pleaded 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.

Taylor faces a minimum sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.

He will be sentenced at a June 8 court hearing.

According to court documents, on Nov. 21, 2021, Taylor arranged to meet an individual in a Walmart parking lot in Lynchburg 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.

“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. “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. “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.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].