Man caught with gun illegally amid 2020 looting gets time served after 14 months in jail

Prosecutors say Gustavo Luna-Barrios is a Mexican citizen illegally residing in the United States, and a judge noted he will next be handed over to immigration authorities.

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse

Sun-Times Media

A federal judge sentenced a man who has already spent more than 14 months in jail to time served Thursday for being in illegal possession of a gun amid the Chicago looting in June 2020.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin told Gustavo Luna-Barrios “I think you deserved every day of the 14-and-a-half months you served.” Prosecutors say Luna-Barrios is a Mexican citizen illegally residing in the United States, so the judge noted he will next be handed over to immigration authorities.

“You contributed to the social unrest,” Durkin told Luna-Barrios. “There was anarchy in the city. It was ridiculous.”

Luna-Barrios, in a lengthy statement before learning his sentence, apologized to his family, community and to the judge. He said, “I caused a lot of grief, pain and suffering to myself and loved ones for making this bad decision.”

But Durkin said Luna-Barrios should instead “apologize to the Chicago police” who had to arrest him while trying to keep others from being injured and shot.

Chicago police caught Luna-Barrios, 34, with a loaded semiautomatic handgun after they checked on a looting call around 12:30 a.m. at O’Reilly Auto Parts in the 3200 block of South Ashland on June 1, 2020, according to federal prosecutors.

When police arrived, they spotted Luna-Barrios and another person climbing through a broken window to get out of the store and then running to a nearby vehicle, court records show. The pair fled when officers approached, the feds say.

A Chicago detective caught the other person near the front of the store, but prosecutors say a sergeant had to chase Luna-Barrios in the parking lot. The police said they found the gun in Luna-Barrios’ front waistband after placing him under arrest.

Luna-Barrios’ sentencing is the latest in federal court to stem from last summer’s rioting in Chicago. Late last month, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall gave a one-year prison sentence to Brandon Pegues, who was caught downtown May 31, 2020, with a hammer and a loaded gun he was not legally allowed to have. A few days after Pegues’ sentencing, the same judge gave a year-and-a-half in prison to Javonte T. Williams, who was caught with a gun illegally during the looting in August 2020.

A federal judge in Minnesota handed a hefty prison sentence of nearly nine years Tuesday to Matthew Lee Rupert of Galesburg, who burned down a store in Minneapolis in May 2020 before moving on to Chicago, where he was arrested. But U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman in Chicago also gave probation to Jacob Fagundo, who admitted setting fire to a CPD SUV during the May 2020 riots —a sentence defense attorneys have begun to point to as they seek leniency for their clients.

Luna-Barrios pleaded guilty in May to unlawful possession of a firearm. Prosecutors asked the judge last month to sentence him to 18 months in prison.

“Nothing good could have possibly come from [Luna-Barrios’] illegal possession of a loaded firearm,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kalia Coleman wrote in a court memo. “In a city plagued by traumatic injuries and death from bullets being indiscriminately sprayed on the street, the public is truly fortunate that Chicago Police officers were able to interdict [Luna-Barrios] and seize the firearm before anyone was harmed.”

Coleman wrote that immigration officials previously gave Luna-Barrios until March 4, 2015, to leave the United States, but he did not do so. He also did not present himself to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials as he was later asked to do so.

He was then charged in 2018 with resisting a peace officer, pleaded guilty in that case and was on bond when he was caught at the auto parts store on June 1, 2020, the prosecutor wrote.

Luna-Barrios’ defense attorney, Phillip J. Oliver, wrote in his own memo that Luna-Barrios is a lifelong Chicago resident who was brought here when he was 18 months old to escape danger in Mexico.

Oliver wrote that Luna-Barrios has a cinematography and film business, helps elderly residents on his block with chores, runs coat and canned-food drives and is “well-regarded among those who know him.”

The defense attorney also wrote that Luna-Barrios told court officials, “This is not who I am, I hope it doesn’t characterize who I am, I am not a criminal.”

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