Expressway shooter fired at a car because he thought it was full of rival gang members, prosecutors say

A man who’s on parole for robbery told police he opened fire on another vehicle while travelling an expressway because he thought the car was full of “opps,” slang for rival gang members, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Cristian Cabrera, 23, is charged with attempted murder in connection with the incident, which unfolded on the ramp from the Stevenson Expressway to the Dan Ryan just before 3 p.m. on February 11.

Cristian Cabrera (inset) and a Google Street View of the shooting location. | CPD; Google

Assistant State’s Attorney Sean Kelly said the string of events began minutes earlier when a black BMW rear-ended another car at a red light on Damen Avenue near the Stevenson.

The BMW took off and headed inbound on the expressway, so the driver of the other car followed it as their passenger took a picture of the BMW, called 911, and gave a partial license plate number to the dispatcher, Kelly said.

When the cars exited onto the ramp to the Dan Ryan, Cabrera leaned out of the BMW’s front passenger window and began shooting at the other car, according to Kelly.

One bullet hit a tire on the victims’ car, another pierced the fusebox, and a third ricocheted off the pavement and struck the car’s oil pan, he said. The car became disabled, and the BMW continued on its way. None of the car’s three occupants was shot.

Investigators tracked the BMW’s travels and found surveillance video that showed Cabrera getting out of the car’s front passenger seat at a gas station before the shooting, Kelly said.

The BMW’s owner pointed cops toward Cabrera, who allegedly told police that he “thought the other car was filled with opps.” He claimed other people in the BMW were telling him to shoot at the car, according to Kelly.

No one in the car that Cabrera allegedly shot at could identify him other than to give police a description of the gunman’s sweatshirt, which Kelly said matched the one Cabrera wore in the gas station video.

Cabrera is currently on parole for an armed robbery in which he and a juvenile reportedly robbed a woman at gunpoint and threatened to shoot her.

Assistant Public Defender Suzin Farber said Cabrera lives with his parents and recently started working as a dishwasher.

Judge Charles Beach ordered Cabrera held without bail on charges of attempted murder at the state’s request. Separately, Beach held Cabrera without bail while the Illinois Department of Corrections parole board reviews his status.

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