18-year-old killed a man because he thought the victim’s van was too noisy, prosecutors say

An 18-year-old Irving Park man opened fire from his apartment window and killed a passing motorist because he thought the victim’s van was too noisy, prosecutors said Monday.

“This s**t is funny as hell,” Gaven Leon allegedly said in a video he recorded at the murder scene as police investigated the killing. “This is legendary footage … who would do such a thing?”

It happened around 11:30 p.m. on February 3 at the intersection of Pulaski and Irving Park roads.

Gaven Leon (inset) shot and killed Ryan Balbag because he thought Balbag’s van was too loud, prosecutors said. | CPD; GoFundMe

Ryan Balbag, 30, and two of his passengers were stopped for a red light not far from Leon’s third-floor apartment on the 3900 block of West Irving Park. Leon, allegedly annoyed by noise from Balbag’s vehicle, fired a round toward the van using a rifle with a green laser sight attachment, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

Leon unjammed the gun, reloaded, and fired a second round as a witness watched from his couch, according to Murphy. One of the bullets flew through the back of Balbag’s head. He died at the hospital two days later.

“Ryan was always smiling and just had the most wholesome and positive aura about him,” James Armband said in a GoFundMe campaign after the murder. “I would like to think that, in the end, that is how he would want us to continue on his legacy and memory.”

“He made the world a better place wherever he went and truly brought out the best in those around him. Ryan still had so much life left to live.”

While police were working the crime scene, Leon told a friend via Facetime that he shot someone from his window, Murphy said. The next day, Leon allegedly told a witness that he fired out the window because Balbag’s car was too loud.

Investigators found videos and pictures on Leon’s phone that showed police working the murder as Leon trolled officers, Murphy alleged.

“Thank you for coming, appreciate it,” Leon told cops.

“I know who was shooting, too,” he said in one video. “This s**t is funny as hell.”

Murphy suggested Leon may have shot toward at least one other driver before killing Balbag.

On January 30, Leon posted a picture online with the caption, “this n****r over here doing burnouts at 2 a.m. in the f*cking morning, so I shot at his ass,” Murphy said.

Prosecutors charged Leon with one count of first-degree murder.

His assistant public defender said he works two jobs, attends church, and attended high school at Lawrence Hall.

Judge Maryam Ahmad ordered him held without bail.

Would you please support CWBChicago’s reporting efforts with a contribution or subscription?

About CWBChicago 6676 Articles
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 news@cwbchicago.com