|Antwane Lashley | CPD|
It’s been 18 months since Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart warned that he was “alarmed” by the number of accused gun offenders who were being released on their own recognizance, sometimes with electronic monitoring.
“This needs to get fixed quick,” Dart told the Sun-Times in Feb. 2018.
It hasn’t been fixed.
Yesterday, 18-year-old Antwane Lashley was in bond court, charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with a shooting on Aug. 23. Lashley has been free on his own recognizance with electronic monitoring since prosecutors charged him with possessing a handgun illegally this spring.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle wasted no time criticizing Dart’s concerns last year.
“I believe it is our responsibility to keep these matters in context and not contribute to sensationalizing them,” Preckwinkle told Dart in a letter days later.
As recently as Friday, Preckwinkle called concerns about people committing violent crimes while free on affordable bail, a “fear tactic.” She has also defended easy bail conditions for gun possession. Some people who live in less-safe neighborhoods feel the need to carry guns for their own protection, she says.
A gun, freedom, then a murder
Around 7:30 p.m. on May 20th, cops in Humboldt Park saw Antwane Lashley walking quickly on the 3800 block of West Chicago. He saw police nearby and began running, holding his right pocket as he fled, a police spokesperson said last night.
Lashley took a handgun out of his pocket, threw it, and kept running, the spokesperson said. Officers caught him nearby while other cops retrieved the gun he allegedly threw.
Prosecutors charged Lashley with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He appeared in court the next afternoon and was set free on his own recognizance with an order to go onto electronic monitoring, according to court records.
Then, last Friday, Neal Sumrell and a woman were sitting in a car on the 4200 block of West Iowa in Humboldt Park. Around 8:15 p.m., someone walked up to their vehicle and opened fire. Sumrell, 34, was shot seven times in the upper body. He died. The woman tried to run away, police said. She was shot three times throughout her body, but managed to survive.
Lashley—on juvenile probation for aggravated battery causing great bodily harm—was arrested at his home Thursday evening, just one block from the murder scene. Police said he was identified as the offender in the double shooting. Prosecutors yesterday charged Lashley with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and aggravated battery by discharging a firearm. Judge Mary Marubio ordered him held without bail.
“Victims deserve better,” said Anthony Guglielmi, the police department’s chief communications officer early Sunday. “We are going to continue to be the voice for those who have been silenced by gun violence.”
Not the first
Lashley is hardly the first person to be accused of killing or trying to kill someone while free on the county’s affordable bail program. Among similar cases reported by CWBChicago:
In May 2018, Daryl Williams was charged with fatally shooting a man in the back of the head. He was free on a recognizance bond at the time while awaiting trial for allegedly possessing a stolen firearm the previous November.
In June of last year, Carnell Morris was charged with being an armed habitual criminal after police said they found a gun in his car. He posted a $1,000 bond. Six months later, while awaiting trial for the gun case, Morris was charged with attempted murder after he allegedly shot a 51-year-old man.
Just three months ago, repeat gun offender Antawan Smith was charged with murdering a 15-year-old. He was free on a $6,000 deposit bond while awaiting trial for allegedly being an armed habitual criminal.
“Individuals who carry and use illegal guns pose a clear and present danger to all of us that live in Chicago,” Gulielmi said today. “If we are going to continue to make our city safer, we must create a culture of accountability for gun offenders.”