|Shane Sleeper pleaded guilty to threatening staff members of Sidetrack and other victims. | CPD; DNAInfo|
Editors note: This report conveys the content of threatening messages that prosecutors say were transmitted by Shane Sleeper. We have not corrected spelling, grammar, or punctuation in the messages cited.
The man accused of making terroristic threats against a Boystown bar while invoking the Pulse Nightclub shooting and harassing other victims was sentenced to seven concurrent 42-month terms in prison on Friday. Shane Sleeper received the sentence after pleading guilty to nine felonies before Judge William Raines. About a dozen additional charges were dropped in the plea deal.
Sleeper’s sentencing brings an end to a winding saga in which he stood accused of threatening to unleash a mass shooting on a popular Boystown bar and later became the focus of an intense manhunt after he was mistakenly released from the Cook County Jail. Sleeper’s behavior was so erratic at times, a judge ordered him out of a courtroom, and one of his attorneys directly accused him of lying during a hearing.
|An Instagram post by Sleeper | Instagram|
The 32-year-old pleaded guilty to four counts of harassment-threatening to kill; three counts of telephone harassment-threatening to kill; impersonating an attorney, and impersonating police. Prosecutors dropped a long list of additional felonies, including making false terroristic threats, hate crime, and assault.
Sleeper as arrested on Feb. 20, 2018, after he allegedly made a series of threats against Sidetrack, 3349 North Halsted, a former co-worker, and an ex-roommate. Prosecutors alleged that Sleeper “continually” made threats to shoot various individuals, making references to shootings via text, social media, phone, and email. The alleged threats included repeated references to the 2016 mass murder of 49 people at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
As his apparent anger with Sidetrack escalated, Sleeper sent a Facebook message to the GM of neighboring Roscoe’s Tavern: “I hope you’re ready for Orlando. I’m not kidding. Be careful or just stay in until this gets resolved.”
Sleeper was also accused of showing up at the offices of a company that hired him to handle in-bar promotions while pretending to be an attorney named “Michael Shane” and threatening to sue the firm.
In another case, Sleeper approached a different company and claimed to be a police officer who was conducting an investigation of one of their employees. Sleeper was accused of posting “derogatory comments” and death threats against the employee on Instagram.
While he initially faced only misdemeanor charges, that changed when a grand jury later returned true bills accusing him of a long list of felonies.
Cook County Judge Anthony Calabrese ordered Sleeper to be removed from an initial court appearance for a series of outbursts in which Sleeper asked the judge to reduce his bail, claiming that he had to get back to work, that he didn’t have any guns, and that he was already in counseling at a local service agency.
Then, at an April 2018 court date, Judge Marvin Luckman ignored Sleeper’s repeated requests to address the court directly. Eventually, Sleeper spoke out anyway: ”These things are on social media and I have no way to respond. My attorney hasn’t told me to how to contact her.”
“That,” Sleeper’s public defender told Luckman, “is a lie, your honor.”
Sheriff’s deputies then escorted Sleeper back to jail, but he wasn’t in custody for long.
County authorities accidentally released Sleeper on May 1st, 2018, when prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor counts that had been superseded by the grand jury’s felony charges. Somehow, the Cook County Sheriff was told that Sleeper no longer faced the misdemeanor charges without also being told that he was to be held on the overriding felonies.
|Sleeper being arrested in Atlanta. | Project Q Atlanta|
Sheriff’s deputies found Sleeper two days later in Uptown.
Before living in Chicago, Sleeper was arrested outside Ten, an Atlanta gay bar where he once worked. The bar’s owner said he had sought a restraining order against Sleeper who was “just wreaking havoc on everyone in Midtown.”
But Sleeper disagreed, telling Project Q Atlanta that he was “being made to be the not normal one.”
“I pretty much got hated by all the staff at Ten the moment I got there because I was the new hot guy in town. There is so much into this, it is kind of ridiculous.”
Last December, prosecutors filed a motion to admit evidence of other crimes in which they detailed specific threats that they claim Sleeper made over several months. The filing included the contents of messages that Sleeper was accused of sending to a parole officer, a former roommate, a former co-worker, and, ultimately, the general managers of two Boystown bars.
The allegations that resulted in charges against Sleeper “did not occur in a vacuum but were rather the culmination of escalating, persistent and disturbing behavior…which placed his victims in great fear for their safety,” prosecutors wrote.
According to the allegations made in the state’s motion:
On May 8, 2017, seven months before the Boystown incidents began, Sleeper sent a message to his parole officer in Kansas:
You just made my life a living hell for the next seven months. You fucking bitch. I will find you and kick your ass and fucking kill you.
No charges were filed in that case.
That November, Sleeper contacted the organizer of Outspoken, a monthly LGBTQ storytelling event at which selected individuals tell their personal stories to an audience at Sidetrack. Sleeper asked to be considered as a speaker at the event and later became unhappy about how he felt he was treated by the organizer and the bar.
The situation apparently escalated after Sleeper punched an off-duty Sidetrack employee while the two were at Little Jim’s, a gay bar at 3501 North Halsted, on Jan. 22, 2018. At 2:19 that morning, Sleeper sent an email to Sidetrack and the Outspoken representative:
Tonight I was at little Jims. I had been nothing but polight to everyone and then here [name deleted] and another door man that work at sidetrack sat to a new individual working at sidetrack “he’s crazy.” I’ve been to prison for denting someone’s car 5 years ago. I’ve been solicited for sex by 3 employers. These same individuals will “pray for Orlando” and preach “love is love” but put me in the position not to care I exist as a human being. I pray you change your staff and am more than willing to address the circumstance. No matter what my past reputation is, I have been who I am due to what I’ve been through and I’m tired of not being cared for. I have the evidence and I need people to listen. I’m extremely disappointed in some of the staff at side track tonight. Shane Sleeper [phone number deleted]
He sent another email three minutes later:
I have never felt as disrespected by a gay establishment as I did tonight.
And a third email at 2:27 a.m.:
What’s funny is many of you know most of my struggles and why I am the way I am and then I deal with what I did tonight. I really can’t believe these two people even work for you. I am completely open to sharing my reality with the management, but I’m not ok with what happened tonight and not would really like to speak with management about it. Unacceptable to the fullest degree for the business I have given you.
A fourth at 2:30 a.m.:
If you ignore me don’t act like you care the next mass shooting happens. That’s not a threat from any direction, that’s the reality. I’m deplored by how I was treated tonight by what sidetrack stands for and what they promote. Bullying individuals is unacceptable and I look forward to a call tomorrow.
Then, an hour later:
And I’m not trying to hide anything. I hit him tonight after he verbally assaulted me, because he had a much larger impact on my life by verbally assaulting me than I did by standing up for myself for what he caused. People need to take responsibility for the hurt they cause. He should not be working at sidetrack. I’ve been suicidal due to being solicited for sex by multiple employers. Befure you turn me in ask me for the evidence and have a conversation with me because I have the proof and I’m tired of being called crazy by people that prefer ignorance. I really hope you guys listen.
He sent a sixth email eight minutes later:
I have nightmares daily due to what I dealt with in prison, I’ve gone 3 days sleeping 8 hours. If the guy had been through what I have in the past few years, I think he would be treating me much differently but if no one is ever going to believe me then I’d rather just not be here. Just need to listen and look at the evidence I have because I’m not making this up but I was extremely hurt tonight.
Sidetrack’s general manager emailed Sleeper that morning to tell him that police had been notified and to ask Sleeper to avoid contacting anyone connected with the bar or the Outspoken program. He also warned Sleeper to not attempt to enter the bar.
Five minutes later, Sleeper responded:
While you’re at it, keep bullying someone who has been solicited for sex by their employers due to having a felon for denting someone’s car 5 years ago. Can’t say ho disappointed I am, and don’t act like you care about PULSE because your own ignorance is what causes those things to happen. That is not a threat and no action will be taken by me but I’m tired of being verbally assaulted when I moved to Chicago to start a new life.
He followed up four minutes later:
At least I’m honest with who I am and how I treat people. I’ve already been suicidal because of what I’ve been through and am currently getting counseling at center on halsted but I am so tired of peole hating and judging me and not looking at the facts or the totality of the situation, because if they saw them I wouldn’t be ignored.
Sleeper sent a third email about five hours later:
You guys have so much love and so much pride but want to make things harder than they should be for someone that just got out of prison as if I don’t have enough struggles already. You cannot say you are sorry for any past of future shooting if you continue to let the employees treat people the way I was last night. There is no pride in ignorance and I won’t be silenced and called crazy for my truth. If you are ok with it happening to me than you deserve to have it happen to yourself. How’s that for being outspoken? You cowar in ignorance and your behavior to hide from how I was treated shows your true character and one that deeply implements further hate.
Sidetrack’s manager filed a police report of harassment by electronic means later that night.
Sleeper went to the entrance of Sidetrack on Jan. 26th and Jan. 28th and tapped on a window where the bar’s doormen could see him. He made gun and shooting gestures with his hands toward the security staff both times.
Sidetrack filed an assault report on Jan. 29th, and the bar’s GM emailed Sleeper the same morning to inform him of the police report and to say that bar employees had been advised to call 911 and have Sleeper arrested if he approached the business or made gestures at doormen.
About 15 minutes later, Sleeper replied via email:
I’ll make all of the hand gestures I want. You don’t own Chicago as far as I know and I can walk whatever side walk I want or talk to whomever I want. A restraining order has not been given, and one isn’t needed. Know this…and feel free to report it to the police too…your lucky I don’t have guns. Because if I did people would already be dead. Stop bullying. You’re one fuck of a place to stand for any kind of pride. At least I’m not ignorant to what my actions cause other people, dish back what gets dished to me. Faggots.
Then, three minutes later, Sleeper sent another email:
Let me be clear that’s not a threat…that’s a blessing…and this is reality. If you continue to treat people this way, eventually one of them will have guns and you will be shot. “We Are Orlando”. Start giving an actual fuck vs. just pretending to. Orlando will happen in Chicago if you don’t change.
A third email was sent eleven minutes after the second:
And to think you think I give a fuck about you filing police reports. Look at some of the evidence and stop being ignorant to have your staff call people crazy. Call people crazy, you will get crazy. This shit happened to me and I have video evidence as well, but gays prefer to bully with ignorance…which is what makes you and actual faggot.
Then, three minutes later, a fourth email:
Lets all feel sorry for the fat Mexican that starts shit and is always an asshole at the door and then wonder why someone might finally stand up for themselves.
Twelve minutes after that, a fifth:
You might want to stop your staff from their illegal drug use that they don’t have prescriptions for, selling it, etc…report that to cpd pussy.
|Sleeper working a bar promotion. | Facebook|
A few days later, on Feb. 2nd, Sleeper sent a text to a former co-worker at a bar promotion company:
If I don’t get a call back further action will be taken by me and not legal. I have been dealing with this for three years and have to see it on the news every day. You should not feel safe, nor should anyone who works for your company. Shootings happen for a reason. This is one of the reasons. This is not a threat. This is reality. In 2018 my life and wellbeing have been threatened by your company’s not caring. When I’m sleeping on people’s couches I am living for nothing. If I had guns, people would be dead. See you shortly.
Sleeper had previously sent a message saying,
Fuck you and fuck your company. Workplace shootings happen due to ignorance and I pray your office receives one.
The next day, on Feb 3rd, Sleeper sent a Facebook message to the general manager of Roscoe’s:
I hope you’re ready for Orlando. I’m not kidding. Be careful or just stay in until this gets resolved.
Sleeper recorded his first Chicago arrest later that day when police took him into custody for “making a shooting gesture” at Sidetrack’s manager. He was charged with assault and released on a recognizance bond.
And on Valentine’s day, he wrote to an unidentified person on Facebook:
Thanks for the block bitch. It’s unfortunate the wrong ones always end up getting shot. Feel free to take a screen shot and send it to your friends.
Police arrested Sleeper again six days later. Prosecutors charged him with four counts of misdemeanor electronic harassment; misdemeanor resisting police; misdemeanor assault; and misdemeanor phone harassment. Except for his brief taste of freedom after being mistakenly released, Sleeper has been behind bars since.
Sleeper’s 42-month sentence will be automatically reduced by 50% in anticipation of good behavior. With 484 days credit for time spent in jail awaiting trial, he can expect to be paroled in November of this year.