Following three months of dealings with a confidential source and an undercover federal agent, authorities last Thursday raided the home of an Alexandria man they believe had been converting semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic machine guns.
Representatives from federal and local law enforcement agencies confiscated 75 guns from the home of John M. Walker, 50, on the cul-de-sac of Utica Avenue off of Duke Street in the West End, said Special Agent Mike Campbell of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Federal agents have arrested Walker for allegedly violating the National Firearms Act and illegally manufacturing machine guns.
After initially appearing in court last Thursday, Walker was released under personal recognizance, according to Peter Carr of the U.S. Attorneys office in Alexandria.
In making the machine guns, Walker allegedly turned semi-automatic firearms that could only fire one bullet with a pull of the trigger into weapons capable of producing a continuous stream of fire while the trigger is depressed.
Walker took care to remove the serial numbers from the converted weapons, according to the affidavit filed to obtain the search and arrest warrants.
The ATF investigation had been running since at least March and included the unlicensed sales of three machine guns to an undercover agent, according to the affidavit.
During the time since the undercover agent first made contact with Walker through a confidential source who knew him for about 30 years, the affidavit said Walker received more than $4,000 for the three machine guns.
Two of the transactions took place within Alexandria, one in May at the Safeway grocery store located on South Van Dorn Street and the other in June at the Fuddruckers restaurant on Duke Street, not far from Walkers home.
A third transaction took place at Walkers place of work, an auto repair shop in Woodbridge, where court documents said Walker had also tested weapons that he had converted in the past.
Walker had explained to the undercover ATF agent in early June that he had been a gun collector and began making machine guns from his own collection, starting with a World War II-era rifle.
He made the decision to begin selling converted, fully automatic weapons including one of the two Uzi machine guns sold to the agent because of his financial situation.
Alexandria Police Chief David Baker wrote in an email that he was grateful for ATFs help in identifying and removing illegal weapons from the community.
Their swift and efficient action in this case helps our ongoing efforts to create and maintain a safe environment for all who live, work or visit our city, Baker wrote.
For citizens, the fact that meetings and weapons transactions took place in their midst at a location as family-oriented as the parking lot of a Fuddruckers was alarming.
Its definitely concerning, Shannon Gunderson said after leaving the restaurant. We come here every week with our friend and so even though we dont live close by its still disconcerting.
Washington resident Gina Robertson said she has become desensitized to news such as Thursdays raid and could envision something like this happening in Alexandria as easily as any other place.
Compared to like Southeast D.C. or Northeast D.C., it would make sense that it could happen here because its probably not a heavy crime area so it would be more under the radar compared to an area that is heavily populated with gun trafficking activity, Robinson said.
Kevin Mallon, a lifelong Alexandria resident, said that he works about two blocks from the Fuddruckers on Duke Street and eats there often, adding to his surprise at the news.
Obviously you usually hear about this sort of thing happening in D.C. on the news, but not right in Alexandria, Mallon said. A lot of kids come here, it is a family-friendly restaurant and because our business is two blocks away it makes it even more scary.