Peoria man receives 37 month federal sentence for participating in theft of 25 firearms from gun store

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 6:06 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - A Peoria man was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for his role in the burglary of a federally licensed firearms dealer and possession of stolen firearms.

At the sentencing hearing for DaJuan Edwards-Melton, 21, of the 2100 block of West Antoinette Street, the government presented evidence that in the early morning hours of December 12, 2021, a juvenile female with her infant child drove Edwards-Melton and two juvenile males to Midwest Exchange, a firearms dealer in Bloomington, Illinois, where the crew attempted but failed to enter the business by force, according to a Department of Justice release.

The crew then moved on to Smiley’s Sports Shop where they broke a window, entered the business, and stole 24 handguns and an AR-15 rifle. After the burglary, the crew returned to Peoria with the firearms.

At the time of his arrest, Edwards-Melton was in possession of one of the handguns stolen during the burglary. Also on December 13, 2021, agents recovered two additional stolen handguns during the search of a residence on Warren Street in Peoria.

The government also presented evidence that, following the burglary, Edwards-Melton distributed firearms to three acquaintances prior to his arrest. To date, six of the 25 stolen firearms have been recovered. Of the six recovered, the government established that three of them had been used in other crimes in Peoria, including the shooting of a 13-year-old boy in December 2021. The government established that another stolen firearm had been recovered during the investigation of an armed vehicular carjacking and a third stolen gun was recovered during the foot pursuit of a subject wanted for domestic battery.

Edwards-Melton was indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2021 and entered a guilty plea to both counts in March 2022. He has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The statutory penalties are up to 10 years’ imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release for each count.