Two men have been sentenced to decades in prison for killing a retired Chicago firefighter during a botched carjacking

A video grab of the carjacking in progress. | Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO — Two men have been handed lengthy prison sentences for participating in a botched carjacking that ended with the murder of retired Chicago Fire Department Lt. Dwain Williams in December 2020.

Devin Barron and Jaylen Saulsberry, both 22, were each found guilty of first-degree murder during a jury trial in June.

On Wednesday, Judge Timothy Joyce handed Barron 40 years for the murder plus a 20-year sentencing enhancement for using a firearm during the commission of the crime, according to clerk of court files.

Joyce sentenced Saulsberry to 65 years on Thursday.

An accomplice, 20-year-old Dwain Johnson, cooperated with the prosecution in exchange for a 30-year sentence for aggravated battery by discharging a firearm. He received an additional three years for offering to pay a jail employee $1,500 to help him smuggle drug-laced paper into Cook County jail earlier this year.

Both Saulsberry and Barron had felony cases pending at the time of Williams’ murder.

The crime

On December 3, 2020, the group drove a stolen Ford Fusion to Chicago, and Barron spotted Williams’ car in traffic.

“There goes a Trackhawk… Bust a U-y,” Barron allegedly instructed, according to court records.

Johnson turned the car around and followed Williams. The court filings say that the crew initially planned to set the carjacking into motion by bumping Williams’ vehicle. But Johnson didn’t get an opportunity before Williams parked outside Let’s Get Poppin’, his favorite popcorn shop.

Johnson and the crew perched in Rep. Bobby Rush’s office parking lot and waited for Williams to leave the store, according to the filing.

As Williams returned to his Jeep, Johnson pulled up behind him, and the other three defendants jumped out. Barron and Saulsberry displayed handguns while the juvenile was unarmed, according to the allegations.

Prosecutors say that the retired firefighter, a concealed carry holder, pulled out his revolver and fired at least one shot before Barron and Saulsberry returned fire. Williams suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen and died.

The group fled in the stolen Fusion, leaving Williams’ vehicle behind. Johnson told prosecutors that the crew planned to sell Williams’ car. He would have pocketed a couple of hundred dollars.

Chicago police released video of the carjacking attempt as they tried to identify the offenders:

Johnson texted his girlfriend, saying they were coming to pick up her car because they “did too much and they were still in the car they did it all in,” the court filings say.

After picking up her Chrysler 300, the crew wiped the Fusion down and dumped it in Tinley Park.

Back in Indiana, the foursome discussed what happened—that Saulsberry left one of his shoes at the murder scene, and the juvenile got out of the Fusion even though he wasn’t supposed to, prosecutors wrote. Police recovered the shoe and found DNA on it that matches Saulsberry’s

Saulsberry’s fingerprints were also found on the getaway car, which had been stolen before the murder, and on the car’s license plate, which was inside the trunk, officials said.

A man identified by prosecutors as Jalen Saulsberry runs from the shooting scene as one of his shoes bounces in the street. | Chicago Police Department

Johnson confessed to his girlfriend a couple of days later and searched Google for information about the murder in the hours after it occurred, the filing said. In a separate filing, prosecutors revealed that Johnson’s attorney disclosed that the group participated in an earlier shooting in Blue Island on the same day that Williams was murdered.

Both Saulberry and Barron have additional felony cases pending that could keep them in prison even longer.

Saulsberry was charged with committing another carjacking in suburban South Holland on November 6, 2020. He fired two shots into the air during that hijacking, officials said.

Barron still has an armed home invasion and armed kidnapping case pending from Chicago Heights.

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