Chocolate City St. Louis
This is “Freaky.” No mug of “Blood” yet.
St. Louis ATF agent, informants saved when guns wouldn’t fire
Undercover work requires luck as well as skill, and a federal agent here used up a lifetime’s worth when two men buying guns and drugs opened fire inside a car. That is, they tried to open fire. Both their weapons failed, allowing the agent and two informers to escape with their lives last week, officials and court documents revealed.
Federal prosecutors charged Frederick “Freaky” Crayton, 23, and James “J. Blood” Jones, 21, with assault on a federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous or deadly weapon. Prosecutors asked Monday that they be held without bail pending trial. A judge will decide later.
Crayton is from St. Louis; Jones’ home community was not available.
The agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was pistol-whipped in the ensuing fight. ATF spokeswoman Trista Frederick said Monday that the agent was doing “fine.” The officer’s name was not revealed by the agency or in court records.
Frederick could not explain how both guns malfunctioned at the same time. She did say that ATF had neither provided the weapons nor tampered with them.
“Sometimes things just work out better for us than for them,” she explained.
Authorities said the guns were semi-automatic pistols, one a .40 caliber and one a 9 millimeter.
Daniel E. Jackson, a retired St. Louis County police firearms examiner who now serves as a forensic consultant, said Monday that while it was “weird” for both weapons to misfire repeatedly, it is not unusual for a “street” gun to fail.
“There are frequently, frequently bad guys running around out there with guns that don’t work,” Jackson said. Many guns are abused, and bought and sold cheaply on the street, he said. “I’m just amazed that most of them don’t end up in a gunfight and find out the hard way.”
According to an affidavit filed in court by Special Agent Russell G. Johnson, one of the investigators, the undercover agent and the gunmen had had dealings before. The agent first met with them and another man to sell a gun to one of them, Johnson wrote. They met again April 15, and another man sold the agent and the informants crack cocaine. The third meeting was Thursday, in the 3200 block of Henrietta Place, just northeast of Interstate 44 and Grand Boulevard.
The sellers pulled handguns, prompting a “scuffle” inside the car, officials said. The men pulled their triggers over and over but the pistols would not fire.The agent was struck with a gun, “splitting (the agent’s) head open,” the affidavit says. The fight then spilled out of the car. Witnesses saw the men point their guns and pull the triggers again, accompanied by more harmless clicking.
The attackers ran off, only to be caught — with their guns — by other officers nearby.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said, “Obviously, this is a situation that could have ended tragically. It just underscores the … day-to-day danger that law enforcement faces and what you may encounter in these undercover investigations,” he said. Speaking of Jones and Crayton, Callahan said, “In their mind, they were going to rip them off.”
In court Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Toni Decker told U.S. Magistrate Judge [*****] the defendants were a danger to the community. “If that gun had not misfired, we would probably be talking about a dead federal agent,” she said. [*****] took the request under advisement. Decker said both men will probably be indicted on Wednesday or Thursday.
Court records show this is the first time either man has faced a federal charge.
In 1998, Crayton was convicted of burglary and theft in St. Louis County. In 2011, he was convicted of misdemeanor property damage in St. Louis.
Crayton’s public defender, Sean Vicente, said his client had served “minor sentences” on both his prior cases. He said Crayton had worked at a diner until it closed.
Vicente pointed out that Jones was the one accused of pistol-whipping the agent.
Vicente noted, “I don’t know what to say” about the faulty guns.
Jones’ attorney, Peter Cohen, said his client was a self-employed tuckpointer whose only prior criminal case was a misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement officer at the age of 19. Cohen asked for Jones to be released on house arrest.
Neither lawyer commented outside the courtroom Monday. Decker referred questions to Callahan.
A mug shot of Jones was not available.
Unfortunately, two ATF informants can no longer be used as they have now been made.
And also, it’s a good thing that black illicit firearms buyers aren’t exactly in it for the quality.
The only good thing is that both Freaky and Blood will be spending a very long time with their Uncle Sam.