Man killed in Albany Park on Monday was also shot during a week-long string of rolling gun battles on the North Side last fall

Juan Nandi and a section of a Chicago police report that cites a prosecutor who refused to charge him with a firearms felony. | CPD; Cook County court records

The man who was shot and killed in Albany Park early Monday was also shot in North Center last fall during a string of nightly running gun battles that killed two people, shocking a relatively peaceful part of the North Side.

After being shot in October, Juan Nandi, 22, was charged with felony gun possession, but only because a Chicago police deputy chief stepped in when a Cook County prosecutor who claimed “victims cannot be offenders” refused to approve the case, we reported last year.

Nandi was also suspected of being involved in one of the other shootings, which left a 16-year-old dead in a barrage of gunfire outside Lakeview High School, according to law enforcement sources. He was never charged.

A murder

Nandi, 22, and his girlfriend were walking in the 4700 block of North Kedzie shortly after midnight Monday when two masked gunmen walked up and started shooting, according to police and medical examiner records. Nandi suffered gunshot wounds throughout his body and died. His girlfriend was shot in the leg and survived.

Witnesses saw two White or Hispanic men run through an alley and leave in a car that was parked near a dumpster. Police have not announced any arrests.

“I’d like to raise as much as we can together as a community to help with any funeral expenses,” the woman wrote in a GoFundMe campaign Tuesday. “Any left over will be sent towards his family. I’d like to spread love to stop the gun violence. No man or human being deserves to be killed in cold blood.”

Another murder

Two nights before Nandi was shot last year, police found shell casings littered across a nearly mile-long stretch of Irving Park Road after the occupants of two vehicles apparently shot at each other while riding through North Center and Lakeview late on October 4, 2021.

Officers found one of the vehicles crashed outside of Lakeview High School with its driver gone, a gun in the car, 16-year-old Christopher Sunpongo dead in the passenger seat, and more than 20 shell casings at the scene, according to initial reports. Bullet holes were seen in the school’s windows.

From a house behind the high school, a security camera caught the sounds of tires screeching and more than 50 gunshots fired during a crazy shootout in front of the school at 4015 North Ashland Avenue.

In addition to nearly two dozen shell casings found at the crash scene, officers reported finding ten shell casings at Irving Park and Rockwell Street, more casings at Irving Park and Campbell Avenue, and still more at Irving Park and Marshfield Avenue. CPD listed the 2400 block of West Cuyler as the official address of the incident.

Nandi was suspected of being present during the shootout that ended with Sunpongo’s death, but no charges were ever approved.

The next night, a 37-year-old woman was killed when a vehicle police said may have been involved in a rolling gunfight collided with the SUV she was riding in. The impact threw Janelle Gardner from the car at Irving Park and Western Avenue around 3:03 a.m. Her driver was taken to a hospital with injuries that police said were not life-threatening. The occupants of the car that struck them climbed into an SUV that stopped to pick them up.

Violent week

The night after Gardner died, Nandi was shot in the neck as he drove near Lincoln and Montrose avenues.

Cops who responded to calls of shots fired saw Nandi walking and asked him if he saw the shooting, according to a CPD report. Nandi pointed south on Lincoln toward a crashed car.

He told the officers that someone in a white SUV shot him while he was driving. The bullet ripped through his neck and lodged at the base of his skull. He lost control of his car after being shot and plowed into the door of a pizza restaurant before walking away, according to police.

As the cops moved closer, Nandi ran. The police followed and allegedly saw him throw an object over a fence. After officers caught Nandi, they returned to the yard and found a loaded handgun, according to the police report.

Nandi was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Police said he was carrying a small amount of suspected crack cocaine and $690 cash.

‘Victims cannot be offenders’

About five hours after officers arrested Nandi, a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office felony review unit refused to file felony gun possession charges against him.

“Victims cannot be offenders,” the report quoted the prosecutor as saying when he rejected the case.

“No felony [unlawful use of a weapon] charges will be pursued per [the prosecutor],” an officer wrote.

Town Hall (19th) District officers were not convinced by the prosecutor’s interpretation of the law, so they looped in a CPD deputy chief, according to police records. And, twelve hours after the first prosecutor spiked the case, a different assistant state’s attorney signed off on the charges, CPD records show.

The running gun battles ended after Nandi was shot last year. No charges have been filed in any of the shootings or murders that occurred during that bloody October week.

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