Paroled gun offender brought a gun to Department of Corrections “safe neighborhoods” event, prosecutors say

A man who was recently paroled for being a felon in possession of a firearm was arrested Thursday after he showed up at “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” an Illinois Department of Corrections parolee event, with a gun in his car, prosecutors say. He is being held without bail until the state parole board reviews the developments.

Thomas Gibson | CCSO

IDOC agents searched all parolees who attended the event to “assure safety,” Assistant State’s Attorney Loukas Kalliantasis said Friday. When Thomas T. Gibson approached the entrance, the agents smelled cannabis and found loose marijuana and a car key in his pocket, according to Kalliantasis.

The agents searched the car and allegedly found 16 baggies of marijuana and a loaded handgun in the center console. Prosecutors charged Gibson with unlawful use of a weapon and possession of cannabis.

State records show he was sentenced to three years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm earlier this year. Gibson arrived at Stateville Correctional Center on April 4 and was released the same day, according to IDOC’s website.

Chicago police records show Gibson being arrested 21 times between 2014 and 2020. Kalliantasis said he has five felony convictions: the current gun case, aggravated DUI in 2018; and narcotics charges in 2017, 2014, and 2013.

David Gaeger, Gibson’s private defense attorney, questioned the validity of the vehicle search and the linkage between Gibson and a gun that he was not near. He said Gibson has one child whom he cares for daily while the mother works.

Gibson “was at the event to do better with his life,” Gaeger told Judge Charles Beach.

The judge set bail for the new charges at $20,000. If the parole board does not send Gibson back to prison, he will need to post 10% of the bail amount to go home.

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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