A man who was on probation for burglary and on bond for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm shot two victims in separate robberies less than an hour apart earlier this month, prosecutors said Sunday. Jerome Powell, 23, is now the 31st person accused of killing, trying to kill, or shooting someone in Chicago this year while awaiting trial for another felony.
Around 11:30 p.m. on July 14, a man and woman were sitting in a car in Chinatown when four men ran up to their vehicle, and a gray Dodge Durango pulled in front of them.
Assistant State’s Attorney Carolyn Nevin said Powell leaned in the passenger door, pointed a gun at the driver’s face, and eventually fired a shot that struck the driver in the hand. Other crew members allegedly demanded the victims’ valuables, but they couldn’t understand what the robbers were saying because the victims only speak Mandarin, Nevin said.
Powell would later admit to “shooting at the Chinese man” because he was “trying to scare the Chinese man,” Nevin continued. The victim’s dashcam also recorded the entire robbery, and Powell’s face is clearly visible, according to Nevin.
About 45 minutes later, a gray Dodge Durango blocked a woman in as she used a bank’s drive-up ATM on the South Side. Powell stepped out of the SUV and ordered the woman from her car while pointing a gun at her, Nevin said. But the woman couldn’t open her door because she was too close to the ATM. She started to back up so she could get out.
According to Nevin, Powell suddenly fired a bullet into the car that slammed into the back of the dashboard and caused the speedometer glass to shatter in the woman’s face. Powell and another robber ran from the scene while a third offender drove away in the Durango, she said. The woman was not seriously injured.
Police found a wallet lying on the pavement near the bank ATM. It belonged to the victim that Powell shot in Chinatown minutes earlier, according to Nevin. Bank surveillance cameras allegedly recorded the second hold-up and shooting.
Powell later admitted to shooting into the woman’s car because he was “trying to get her to stop,” Nevins said. He allegedly told investigators that he was sorry.
Detectives pieced the case together through a third incident: About nine hours after the bank shooting, police who responded to a car crash saw four men run from the wrecked vehicle, Nevin said. Powell was allegedly one of the three men cops caught. Cops had no reason to arrest Powell, and he was sent on his way.
But the interaction was captured on officers’ bodyworn cameras and dash cameras, Nevins said. Detectives eventually used those videos along with footage from the other two robberies to build their case against Powell, according to Nevins.
They arrested him Friday.
He’s charged with two counts of aggravated battery by discharging a firearm, armed robbery, and attempted vehicular hijacking. Back in February, Powell was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon while he was on probation for a burglary case, according to court records.
Judge Arthur Willis ordered Powell held without bail on the new charges, held without bail for violating his probation, and held without bail for violating the terms of bond in the February gun case.
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