Gang member sentenced for possessing illegal machine gun

May 7—COLUMBUS — A Columbus resident and convicted felon who is a member of a local criminal street gang was sentenced to federal prison this week for illegal possession of a machine gun.

Tyquerrious Ford, 23, of Columbus, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Ford pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a machine gun on Dec. 20. Co-defendant, Bernard Shaw, 23, of Columbus, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release on. Shaw pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on Dec. 7. U.S. District Judge Clay Land handed down the sentences. There is no parole in the federal system.

"It is illegal for felons to possess firearms, let alone machine guns with extended magazines," U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a news release. "The U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI are committed to bringing federal resources to bear in our close partnership with the Columbus Police Department and Muscogee County Sheriff's Office."

"The FBI and our law enforcement partners are determined to make our streets safer by removing violent felons — especially those in possession of high-capacity firearms — and holding them accountable with prison terms and no opportunity for parole," Keri Farley, the special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said.

According to court documents, on April 24, 2022, Columbus Police Department officers were on uniform patrol when they observed a vehicle driven by Ford traveling on Dawson Street in Columbus with multiple traffic violations. Ford did not immediately stop and when he did, he did not have a license and attempted to walk away from the officers and was detained.

Shaw, who was a passenger, leaned against the door to prevent the officer from accessing the vehicle, then got out of the car and fled the scene. Officers found a loaded Glock Model 17 pistol with an extended 31-round magazine in the driver's seat belonging to Ford. The firearm had been illegally modified with an automatic selector switch, also known as a "Glock switch," allowing the operator of the firearm to continuously fire bullets with one pull of the trigger.

In the passenger seat of the vehicle, there was a green bookbag containing a stolen Springfield XD semiautomatic pistol belonging to Shaw. Officers also found bags of marijuana, a scale and 100 small baggies.

On July 22, 2022, Muscogee County Sheriff's Office deputies and FBI agents located Shaw seated inside a car in the parking lot of the AutoZone on Buena Vista Road in Columbus. He was quickly detained; officers found a loaded Del-Ton 5.56 semiautomatic rifle with two 30-round magazines taped together containing a total of 37 rounds in both magazines belonging to Shaw.

Additionally, a brass catcher was mounted on the firearm. Shaw was arrested and his cellphone and rifle were seized. Shaw has prior convictions in Jefferson County Circuit Court in Louisville, Ky., that include theft by taking and fleeing police. Ford has prior convictions, including theft by receiving. It is illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm.

Both Ford and Shaw are confirmed members of Zohannon, a Columbus-based criminal street gang.

The case was investigated by FBI, CPD and MCSO. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Williams prosecuted the case for the government.