High school senior killed 15-year-old during an after-school robbery in West Town, prosecutors say

A high school senior killed a 15-year-old during an after-school robbery in West Town last month, prosecutors said Thursday.

Tremell Neloms, 18, was ordered held without bail on one count of first-degree murder in the death of Caleb Westbrooks near Golder College Prep on the afternoon of January 22.

Tremell Neloms (left) is charged with the murder of Caleb Westbrooks during the commission of a robbery. | CPD; gvicblog

After being dismissed from his school early, Westbrooks walked to Golder to meet up with friends, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said. He added that a Golder official told Westbrooks and his friends to leave the school property and wait for their friends across the street.

Around 1 p.m., Neloms left class at Golder walked through the group Westbrooks was with, Murphy said. Video allegedly shows Neloms following the group, walking through it again, and then walking up to Westbrooks to ask a question on the 800 block of North Greenview.

Neloms then pulled out a gun and announced a robbery, Murphy said.

When Westbrooks asked Neloms who he was robbing, Neloms shot Westbrooks in the stomach, arm, and chest, according to Murphy. Westbrooks died later the same day.

The group with Westbrooks ran for safety as the shots rang out, and Neloms fired four more rounds toward them as they headed toward Golder, Murphys said. None of them was injured.

A school administrator who has known Neloms “for years” is one of the witnesses who identified him from video footage, Murphy said.

Neloms has no criminal background. His defense attorney pointed out that he was 17 at the time of the alleged shooting. And, the lawyer argued, the gunman was wearing a mask, according to CPD paperwork.

He also suggested that the surveillance videos do not have audio, so there’s no proof about what was said at the scene.

“There doesn’t need to be audio,” Judge Dawkins countered before ordering Neloms held without bail.

She noted that the teen “was headed on the right path, or seemed to be.”

Westbrooks’ father, Corneal, released a moving written statement after the murder.

“Caleb was a smart, vivacious and athletic teenager who was looking forward to a bright future with goals and dreams that now will go unfulfilled.”

“Unfortunately, this senseless violence is likely to continue unabated until the elected and appointed leadership of the city and county stop pointing fingers at one another and take personal responsibility for the role they have played in the disintegration of the criminal justice system as well as the lack of critical mental health services in Chicago and Cook County.”

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