Behavior, education led to shooter's early release

Shamus Patton

A convicted gunman who opened fire, shooting nine people during a busy downtown event three years ago was re-arrested after an early release from prison.

It all started when Shamus Patton got a pass from his transition program at Volunteers of America to search for a job. Within hours, he was part of a chase that landed him back in the Marion County Jail, facing new felony charges of resisting police.

13 Investigates looked into how Patton managed to get out in the first place, after serving less than two years of his prison sentence.

Locked inside a police impound is the 2000 black Chevy Impala an officer spotted weaving in and out of traffic Wednesday afternoon. When the driver refused to pull over, IMPD officers chased it down to the 2500 block of Falcon Drive, in Fay Holley's neighborhood on the city's northwest side.

"I came out here and I looked and I said 'They got the police out there and they got their guns drawn and everything'," she said.

Holley and other neighbors who had come out of their homes were told to stay in their own yards. They had no idea what was in the car, or better yet, who was in the car.

Police found two guns and ammunition, including a 30-round extended magazine for a 9mm semi-automatic. But there was another surprising discovery among the three suspects - 20-year-old Shamus Patton.

Patton is the same gunman who opened fire on a busy street during Summer Celebration in 2010. Nine people were shot - eight children and one adult.

"I couldn't understand how somebody could shoot that many people and be out," said Holley in disbelief.

It's a burning question from the jailhouse to the Statehouse. 13 Investigates found Patton is one of the latest inmates to flaunt Indiana's education and good time credit laws behind bars.

Patton was sentenced August 3, 2011 to eight years in prison for each of the nine counts of felony battery, all to be served at the same time, and to eight years on a count of felony criminal recklessness. Six years of that sentence were suspended.

Before Patton got to prison, he was already racking up credit. He had earned more than a year - 381 days, to be exact - waiting in the lockup for his case to go to trial. Once inside prison, he earned 183 days for completing his GED and another 183 days for completing a substance abuse program.

On top of that, he got a "day for a day" for good behavior.

At the time of his arrest on Wednesday, Patton was in transition at a Marion County Community Corrections program at Volunteers of America, where he was scheduled for release July 16th.

Mary Leffler, a spokeswoman at Volunteers of America, told 13 Investigates Patton was finishing up his first phase under that special transition program. Leffler said he could have been assigned to home detention and electronic monitoring or another Community Corrections work release site to finish up his two-year sentence for criminal recklessness.

All told, Patton spent just a year and eight months in prison. His three-year sentence for criminal gang activity and a one-year sentence for carrying a gun without a license were all suspended.

"I don't think that's the way it should be," said State Representative Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon).

Steuerwald sponsored a bill lawmakers passed just this year in an effort to restore truth in sentencing.

"We tried to separate the people we're mad at from the people we're afraid of," Steuerwald told 13 Investigates.

He says under the new measure, Patton would not have received a day for a day, but one day credit for every three days served. But the new law doesn't go into effect until July 2014.

"It's scary," said Holley, shaking her head at the possibility it could happen again.