Prosecutors: Man had auto-fire gun while on bail for trying to kill a cop and escaping from electronic monitoring

Kenneth Bell | CPD

A two-time convicted gun offender who’s awaiting trial for allegedly trying to kill a Chicago cop got out on electronic monitoring, escaped, got out on electronic monitoring again, and was caught over the weekend with a handgun capable of generating automatic gunfire, prosecutors say. And yes, in case you lost track of all of that, he was supposed to be on electronic monitoring at the time.

Prosecutors on Monday charged Kenneth Bell, 22, with two counts of armed habitual criminal, aggravated battery of a police officer, and felony resisting.

“Basically,” Judge John Lyke told Bell after hearing the allegations, “the state is saying they’re getting fed up and to hold you no bail.” Lyke did exactly that.

To help you fully appreciate Bell’s alleged accomplishments, we’ll start on January 4, 2017. That’s when he was charged with having a defaced handgun in a car on the West Side. He posted bail and was charged with having another gun in a stolen car less than a month later. Bell eventually received two concurrent one-year sentences in those cases, prosecutors said. His parole ended in November 2018.

Three months later, on Feb 2, 2019, Bell was charged with attempted murder of a police officer and other felonies after he allegedly drove his car directly at some Chicago cops and tried to run them over, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said. One officer had to push himself off of Bell’s car to avoid being struck, according to Scaduto.

Cops arrested Bell after a pursuit in which he repeatedly drove the wrong way, ran red lights, and crashed two times, Scaduto said. A judge ordered him held without bail and he remained jailed until another judge lowered his bail to $100,000 in November 2019. Bell posted $10,000 to go home on electronic monitoring the next month.

Prosecutors charged him with escape because he violated the electronic monitoring, Scaduto said. An arrest warrant was issued, and he was eventually arrested. A judge ordered him held in lieu of $100,000 for escape and increased bail in his murder case to $250,000.

One month later, on September 11 last year, Bell posted a $15,000 deposit to get out of jail on electronic monitoring again.

Sunday evening, Chicago police officers monitoring a CPD surveillance camera saw Bell — still on electronic monitoring — hand a firearm to another man who then placed it in his jacket on a side street near the Garfield Park Conservatory, Scaduto said.

Bell adjusted his pants, allowing the camera operators to see another gun in his waistband, according to Scaduto. He and the other man climbed into the back seat of a car that left the area, she said.

Patrol officers, armed with information from the camera operator, pulled the car over a short time later. Those officers found a handgun sitting at the feet of the man who allegedly received a gun from Bell minutes earlier. After fighting with officers, Bell was found to be carrying a loaded handgun with an extended magazine, Scaduto said. The weapon was allegedly equipped with a device that allows it to generate automatic fire.

Bell’s public defender said he suffered head injuries in the past and, since he’s under 25-years-old, his brain may not be fully “understanding the cost-benefit analysis” of his actions.

“What’s troubling to this court,” Judge Lyke said, “is not just the felonies. It’s the type of felonies” that Bell is accused of committing.

Lyke then ordered Bell held without bail on the new case and held without bail for violating the terms of release in the attempted murder and escape cases. Bell is due back in court May 10.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is