Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, October 3, 2018
Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, prolific train burglar Andrew Shelton understood firsthand the carnage caused by illegal guns.
When he was just 16, Shelton, a former Gangster Disciples gang member, shot three people and was sentenced to four years in prison, court records show. He survived three separate shootings himself in the 1990s, including a carjacking in which he was shot nine times. And Shelton’s father was slain in a drive-by shooting in 2001.
So when Shelton and his burglary crew broke into a freight train one night two years ago and saw box after box of shiny new Ruger firearms stacked in the rail car, he of all people “should have thought twice about throwing gasoline on the fire” of Chicago’s gun violence, a federal judge said Tuesday.
Instead, Shelton helped steal more than 100 of the pistols and unloaded them to “fences” for sale on the street. Within days, the weapons were showing up at crime scenes around the city — at shootings, stashed under gutters, left on porches and tossed during police chases.
Before the sentence was handed down, Shelton stood in court in an orange jail jumpsuit and issued a brief apology to his family and the court, saying this latest conviction has finally caused him to want to turn his life around.
“I look at things much different now,” Shelton, who is married with 10 children, said in a deep voice as several relatives dabbed tears from their eyes.