WGN Investigates has obtained chilling video of a gang shootout on Chicago’s South Side in 2021 that caught the attention of federal prosecutors due to an adjustment to one of the firearms used in the crime. 

Video shows six people making their way down a South Side sidewalk. From a second angle, an SUV stops and a door flies open. Bullets fire and an exchange of gunfire ensued.

Federal prosecutors charged 25-year-old Willie Glenn, who was in the car. Glenn has since been convicted and sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison. It’s the latest entry on a rap sheet that includes previous arrests for being a felon in possession of a gun, a stolen car and unlawful use of a weapon. 

But what prompted the fed’s involvement?  

Glenn used a 40-caliber handgun equipped with a “Glock switch,” a small metal device that turns ordinary handguns into machine guns.  

In 2019, WGN Investigates reported on the proliferation of illegal switches on the streets. 

“It changes basically the entire nature of the gun,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told WGN Investigates.  

A year later, WGN Investigates reported on a south suburban man found to be in possession of more than 100 conversion switches – along with guns and drugs – at a home in Robbins. He allegedly told ATF agents he was in the business of selling the switches for $500 apiece. He’s now serving a 10-year sentence. 

“People will continue to try to acquire these because someone involved in drive-by shootings, gang members, things like that, it’s good for them,” Dart said.

As for the 2021 South Side shootout, despite the spray of automatic fire, everyone survived. 

Federal convictions often come with stiffer sentences than crimes prosecuted by the state, which is why the feds have gotten involved in various “Glock switch” cases. It’s meant to send a message. 

Four other people involved in the 2021 shootout were arrested and charged locally with aggravated battery with a handgun.