Man on parole for 3rd gun case is charged with brandishing firearm during Lake Shore Drive road rage clash

A man on parole for his third gun conviction was arrested near Montrose Harbor after he allegedly pointed a handgun at a driver on Lake Shore Drive during a road rage incident Sunday evening. Police tracked the man down by using CPD’s extensive network of lakefront cameras and license plate readers.

Prosecutors said a driver called 911 to report that the passenger of a white Chevy flashed a gun at them after a driving dispute near Lake Shore Drive and Balbo. And the driver allegedly gave the 911 operator the other car’s license plate number. Officers began tracking the car via the city’s surveillance network and allegedly found it traveling near Montrose Harbor around 6:15 p.m.

Angel Esparza and the gun police allegedly found. | IDOC; CPD

Officers from the Lakeview-based Town Hall District were dispatched to look for the car. They found it on the 4700 block of North Simonds a few minutes later and ordered the driver and passenger to get out, prosecutors said.

Cops allegedly found a loaded handgun with a laser sight behind the car’s glove box. Officers arrested the passenger, 30-year-old Angel Esparza. CPD surveillance footage showed him flashing the gun from a car during the road rage incident, according to prosecutors.

Esparza was paroled in September 2020 after serving half of a five-year sentence that he received for being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2018. He previously received three years for being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2016. Before that, he received a three-year sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2014. He also has a 2009 conviction for possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Prosecutors on Monday charged Esparza with unlawful use of a weapon for the Lake Shore Drive incident. They said they might eventually charge him with Class X armed habitual criminal.

Judge Charles Beach set Esparza’s bail at $100,000. He also ordered Esparza held without bail while the state considers revocation of his parole, which is scheduled to end next month.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com