Suburban man gets 2 years after firing gun amid unrest in May 2020

The judge told Kevin Tunstall, “you’re not a person who should have a gun, sir. And you know that.”

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The Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St.

Kevin Tunstall, of Oak Forest, was sentenced to two years in prison for firing a gun during the May 2020 protests in downtown Chicago.

Sun-Times file

A federal judge sentenced an Oak Forest man Wednesday to two years in prison for firing a gun he was not legally allowed to possess during the May 2020 protests and unrest in downtown Chicago. 

Kevin Tunstall, 30, was arrested after police monitoring protests heard gunshots at 1:26 a.m. on May 30, 2020, fired from a parking lot near the southeast corner of State and Harrison streets, records show. 

While handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin called May 30, 2020, “a very difficult day in the city” when police were “trying to do their jobs,” and then “in the middle of that chaos the defendant decided to pull out a gun and shoot it in the air.”

Tunstall has a previous conviction for reckless discharge of a firearm and served time for harassing a potential witness against him, records show. Durkin said Tunstall threatened the person’s life. 

“You’re not a person who should have a gun, sir,” Durkin said. “And you know that.”

The judge said he had intended to give Tunstall a higher sentence, but he said he was impressed by Tunstall’s comments in court Wednesday. Tunstall told the judge that “my misconduct is not acceptable” and that he took “full responsibility” for what he did. 

He also said, “I know I’m destined for greatness” and “I don’t look at myself as a criminal. I don’t conduct myself as a criminal.” He acknowledged he was drunk when he fired the gun in May 2020.

Officers approached the parking lot near State and Harrison after hearing the gunshots, records show. Several people fled on foot. But Tunstall got in the back seat of a parked black Jeep. Using a flashlight, police said they could see Tunstall inside leaning forward, with his hands near his waist. 

Prosecutors later alleged that Tunstall was “manipulating something in his stomach area under his jacket.”

When an officer opened the rear passenger side door, Tunstall allegedly slid across the back seat and tried to get out using the rear driver’s side door. That’s when the feds say he dropped a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol on the ground outside the Jeep. 

As he was taken to a police vehicle, Tunstall allegedly said, “You dropped that gun, I picked it up,” and, “I grabbed that gun.”

Prosecutors say he later acknowledged in a recorded jailhouse phone call having fired the gun just before his arrest. He also admitted to firing the gun when he pleaded guilty in February.

The sentencing of Tunstall follows Tuesday’s guilty plea by Lamar Taylor of Chicago, who admitted he helped set fire to an unoccupied Chicago Transit Authority van amid the rioting and looting in May 2020.

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