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Press Release

Chicago Man Who Fired Gun Into Murder Victim’s Grave During Burial Service Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A Chicago man who fired a gun into the grave of a murder victim during his burial service has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

During the Nov. 22, 2017, service at Evergreen Cemetery in Evergreen Park, ELSTON STEVENSON drew a handgun and said words to the effect of, “You ain’t [expletive].  You got what you deserved.”  Stevenson fired a single shot into the grave of the deceased man, who had been murdered two days earlier.

Stevenson then waved the gun in the direction of the mourners as he fled the service.  He was arrested a short time later near the entrance of the cemetery.

Stevenson, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.  U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp, Jr., imposed the 15-year sentence July 1, 2020, in federal court in Chicago.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Kristen deTineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Evergreen Park Police Department.

“When a felon brings a loaded gun to a populated area and uses the gun to threaten and endanger strangers, this conduct will not be tolerated,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Cornelius A. Vandenberg argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “The mourners were all in the immediate vicinity of the defendant when he produced the loaded weapon and were placed in danger by the defendant’s reckless firing of the weapon into the gravesite.”

Holding illegal firearm possessors accountable through federal prosecution is a centerpiece of Project Guardian and Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) – the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategies.  Project Guardian focuses specifically on investigating, prosecuting, and preventing gun crimes, and it emphasizes the importance of using modern technologies to promote gun crime intelligence.  In the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Lausch and law enforcement partners have deployed the Guardian and PSN programs to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district.

Updated July 6, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime