A man from St. Louis County, Missouri on Monday admitted dealing fentanyl and shooting a 16-year-old with a fully automatic pistol in downtown St. Louis in 2022.
John M. Whitney Jr., 21, of Bridgeton, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Matthew T. Schelp to one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
As part of his plea agreement, Whitney admitted that after someone working for the Drug Enforcement Administration bought fentanyl twice from him in April of 2022, a court-approved search of his apartment found drugs and guns. Whitney had a Glock pistol with an aftermarket “switch” or conversion device that made it fully automatic. He also possessed three AR-15-style rifles, a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, raw fentanyl in a plastic bag, and capsules containing fentanyl.
Whitney also admitted in his plea that on March 13, 2022, he had been conducting drug sales outside a loft building on Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. After entering the lobby and heading to the elevators, he used a switch-equipped Glock handgun to fatally shoot a 16-year-old. He admitted shooting the teen but claimed the teen drew his weapon first and he acted in self-defense, the plea agreement says. Surveillance video shows Whitney and the teen simultaneously drawing firearms and Whitney opening fire with the Glock as the teen turned towards Whitney with his pistol raised, the plea agreement says.
Whitney then exchanged fire with the teen’s associate before both fled the building.
Whitney is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 13, 2024. The fentanyl distribution charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The firearm charge is punishable by up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoff Ogden is prosecuting the case.