Teens Charged After Attempted Car Theft Turns Deadly and Prompts High-Speed Police Chase
Five teenagers were charged Tuesday evening after a 14-year-old boy was killed in a shooting that authorities say stemmed from an attempted car theft in the north suburbs, sparking a police chase that ended in dramatic arrests caught on camera in Chicago earlier in the day.
A Lake County Judge set bail at $1 million for each of the defendants. They are all due back in court on Sept. 5, authorities said.
At around 1:15 a.m., deputies responded to a home in the 17600 block of West Edwards Road in Old Mill Creek for a report of an attempted vehicle theft in which the caller, a 75-year-old man, said he shot at a group of individuals he thought were trying to steal his car, the Lake County sheriff’s office said.
“The 911 caller was the homeowner,” Lake County sheriff’s office spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference. “He indicated that he went outside because there were several people at his residence attempting to break into a vehicle and, he believed, steal a vehicle.”
“He was armed with a small caliber revolver,” Covelli continued, adding, “The homeowner indicated that as he was standing on his porch, there were two male individuals who quickly approached him on his property, at his porch. One of those individuals was holding something in his hand.”
The homeowner told investigators that “out of fear for his safety and his wife’s safety,” he opened fire, according to police, who said he shot at least three rounds, one of which struck a 14-year-old boy in the head.
The homeowner then called 911 to report the incident and request an ambulance for the boy who had been shot, according to Covelli, who said sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home to find that the group had already fled the scene in a Lexus SUV that had been reported stolen out of north suburban Wilmette two days prior.
Shortly thereafter, officials said Gurnee police officers were investigating an unrelated traffic crash approximately three miles away, in the area of Route 132 and Hunt Club Road in Gurnee, when that SUV pulled up to the officers at the scene. The SUV stopped and two people got out of the car, Covelli said at a news conference, identifying them as the 14-year-old boy who had been shot and a 17-year-old boy was was “calling for help.”
Authorities said the boy was from Chicago, but further details, including his identity, were not immediately available. An autopsy conducted by the Lake County coroner’s office was scheduled to take place Wednesday, Covelli said.
The 17-year-old boy who also got out of the car was taken into custody at the scene of the crash in Gurnee. The four other occupants of the SUV fled from the scene “at a high rate of speed,” according to the sheriff’s office. Gurnee police initially pursued the vehicle as it traveled toward Chicago on Interstate 94, with Lake County sheriff’s deputies and the Illinois State Police later joining the pursuit.
Speeds in the chase reached up to 120 miles per hour, officials said, before the driver of the SUV stopped at around 2:15 a.m. near North Halsted and West Randolph Streets in Chicago‘s West Town neighborhood.
“The only reason the Lexus stopped, we found out later, was because it ran out of gas,” Covelli said. “And that’s when the four individuals fled from the vehicle.”
Illinois State Troopers apprehended a 16-year-old boy, a 17-year-old boy and an 18-year-old woman after a brief foot chase which was captured on video, officials said, while another 17-year-old boy was initially able to escape arrest.
A Lake County sheriff’s deputy and K-9 tracked the teen to a dumpster about a block away where they found the teen inside, having buried himself under garbage, Covelli said.
Further information about the suspects, including their identities and any pending charges, was not immediately available. Covelli noted that a knife was found at the scene that investigators believed was from one of the individuals on the property where the shooting took place.
“Any time there’s a loss of life, it is a tragedy for the family and friends of the deceased. Our condolence goes out to the family of the young man who lost his life today,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said at the news conference, thanking the other agencies involved in the pursuit and subsequent arrests.
Covelli said the 75-year-old homeowner had a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, was legally allowed to possess the weapons on his property and was cooperating with the investigation.
The incident remained under investigation Tuesday, according to Covelli, who said the Lake County sheriff’s office would at a later date present its findings to the Lake County state’s attorney’s office, which would ultimately decide on any charges to be filed in connection with the incident.