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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Man, 18, to plead guilty to gun, gang charges in Downtown shooting

18:55 | , , ,

Nearly a year after gunfire Downtown tarnished the ending of the Black Expo Summer Celebration, the youth accused of the shootings has agreed to plead guilty to charges that could land him 10 years in prison.

Gang member Shamus Patton, 18, is expected to plead Aug. 3 to two counts of felony battery and one count of felony criminal recklessness. He'll also plead to a felony count of criminal gang activity and a misdemeanor count of carrying a handgun without a license.

Marion Superior Court Judge Carol Orbison can sentence Patton to no more than 10 years in prison.

The agreement, disclosed Wednesday, came one day after city and police officials said they are taking extra precautions to try to prevent violence at this year's Summer Celebration, which ends Sunday. Police this week are warning 70 known gang members to stay away from the event this year.

The shootings happened July 17, 2010, when large crowds of teenagers had gathered near Illinois and Maryland streets for Summer Celebration activities. According to court records, several witnesses saw clothing associated with city gangs and heard people proclaim a rival gang's name before shots rang out. Nine boys and men were injured.

Patton was arrested three days later. Prosecutors said Patton was a member of the Ratchetz Boyz street gang in the Martindale-Brightwood area. The gang is a rival of the Grimme Boyz, located near Haughville.

Prosecutor Terry Curry said a criminal gang enhancement charge that would have doubled Patton's sentence was dropped to assure the deal. He said he was satisfied with getting the criminal gang activity charge to stick. To prove the gang enhancement charge, prosecutors must show that a felony was the direct result of a gang-related endeavor.

"Those can be difficult to secure," he said.

Mayor Greg Ballard praised police and prosecutors for bringing the case to an apparent close.

"The quick arrest of this dangerous criminal by IMPD last year and announcement that he could spend the next ten years in prison sends a strong message that we will not tolerate violence in our city," Ballard said in a written statement.

Vernon Williams, a Black Expo spokesman, said the shootings weren't connected to any Black Expo event, so commenting on it would not be appropriate.

"It was unrelated, and we became interested in it afterward," Williams said.

Black Expo formed a task force that worked through the year to develop security measures intended to keep young eventgoers engaged in indoor events. They also plan to enforce curfews and increase citizen patrols this weekend.

Patton's attorney, Larry Cable, said Patton wanted to close the case and is committed to becoming a better citizen.

"Shamus has shown all the signs that he is going to behave and change his life and everything," Cable said. "This is the best resolution for everyone. He was ready to get it resolved."

He said Curry wanted to send a broader message about crime Downtown or in public spaces with the prosecution.

"I think the whole system was to get the word out to young people that Black Expo or any kind of event is not a place to take their battles and their problems," Cable said. "And that's the thing that I think everyone is most concerned (about)."

Curry agreed.

"If you come Downtown with a gun and engage in illegal conduct, we will prosecute you and send you to jail," Curry said. "For those who would glorify this type of behavior, they should know that the reality is Shamus Patton has spent the last year in the Marion County Jail and will potentially spend a considerable number of his youthful years in an Indiana prison."


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