Man caught with hammer, illegal gun during May 2020 rioting gets year in prison

Though federal prosecutors said they had no evidence Brandon Pegues caused any of the damage downtown, they said his crime was also symbolic of the gun problem plaguing Chicago.

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse

Sun-Times Media

A federal judge handed a one-year prison sentence Tuesday to a man caught downtown during the May 2020 riots with a hammer and a loaded gun he was not legally allowed to have.

Though prosecutors said they had no evidence Brandon Pegues caused any damage in the city, they said his crime was also symbolic of the gun problem plaguing Chicago.

And in handing down her sentence, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said people who chose to loot and riot in late May 2020 discredited the people who were peacefully protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

That’s because “uninformed individuals would clump them together,” Kendall said.

Before the judge sentenced him, Pegues told her “I take full responsibility for my actions.” He said he has started a landscaping business and said “I would like you to take into account everything I am and not just the person who made an awful decision.”

But the judge also pointed to allegations of domestic battery that surfaced against Pegues earlier this year, telling him, “The aggressive and violent abuse of women is never tolerated in our society.”

Pegues, who turns 30 on Wednesday, pleaded guilty in March to illegal possession of a firearm. Chicago police said they spotted him a little after 12:30 a.m. May 31, 2020, in the 800 block of South Financial Place, where they arrived “in response to mass crowds and multiple reported ongoing crimes, including criminal damage to property,” court records show.

Officers said they saw four men running south on South Financial, and some were carrying hammers. When officers saw Pegues, they said he looked at them, adjusted his waistband, and fled. Police said they ran after him, and Pegues eventually stumbled and fell.

Police said they saw a gun fall to the ground, and they said they saw Pegues push what turned out to be a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol under a nearby vehicle. Prosecutors said Pegues was also carrying a hammer and more than $2,200 cash when he was arrested.

The feds filed charges against Pegues on June 1, 2020. Pegues had previously been convicted of residential burglary, a felony, in January 2010, court records show.

The sentencing of Pegues, one of the first people to face federal criminal charges in the wake of the May 2020 riots, comes as related cases continue to work their way through the court system.

Records show authorities this week arrestedJose Valdovinos, who was charged in June with setting fire to a Walgreens, in the 4000 block of West 59th Street on June 1, 2020.

And earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman gave three years of probation to Jacob Fagundo, who admitted he set fire to a Chicago police SUV during the May 2020 riots downtown.

Also sentenced last March was D Angelo D. Chester, who was caught with a gun he was not legally allowed to possess on the South Side on June 3, 2020. Chester had been out past the curfew implemented by Mayor Lori Lightfoot as a result of the rioting, authorities said.

U.S. District Judge John Blakey gave Chester more than three years in prison, citing a criminal history that increased the risk Chester would commit another crime.

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