6 years for man who flashed a gun during road rage incident (while on parole for his 3rd gun conviction)

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

CHICAGO — While on parole for his third felony gun conviction in August 2021, Angel Esparza was accused of flashing a gun at another driver during a road rage confrontation near Grant Park. Esparza is back in prison today after being handed a 6-year sentence in the case.

Court records show he received the sentence from Judge Michael Hood after pleading guilty to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon on October 23. Hood gave him an additional year for a felony criminal damage charge he picked up while in jail.

Esparza, 33, was riding in a car when his driver got into a dispute with another driver on Lake Shore Drive near Balbo on August 8, 2021. After Esparza flashed a gun, the other driver called 911, reported that the passenger in a white Chevy flashed a gun, and provided the car’s license plate number, officials said.

Chicago police used the city’s extensive network of surveillance cameras and license plate readers to locate the Chevy. One of the cameras even recorded video of Esparza flashing the gun, prosecutors alleged.

CPD patrol units found the Chevy within minutes in the 4700 block of North Simonds, a road that runs through the park near Montrose Habor. Once Esparaza and the driver were removed from the car, police found a loaded handgun with a laser sight behind the car’s glove box, prosecutors said. They arrested Esparza.

As part of his plea deal in the case, the state dropped a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court records. That’s a charge he has been convicted of three times before.

He was on parole for it at the time of the Lake Shore Drive incident. 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.

His current sentences will be reduced by 50% for good behavior. After factoring in credits earned while in jail, the Illinois Department of Corrections expects him to be paroled on February 25, 2025.

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