2 men in car from which gunman fired on Chicago cop plead guilty to felonies; case against alleged shooter continues

Chicago — Two men who were in a hijacked car from which a gunman allegedly shot at a Chicago police officer in the Loop earlier this year have pleaded guilty to felonies in connection with the incident, according to court records.

Noel Centeno (left) and Jesse Sanchez and a frame from Chicago police surveillance video of the incident. | Chicago Police Department

Edgardo Perez, 25, continues to fight a charge of attempted murder of a police officer stemming from the January 26 incident. But the driver of the vehicle he was in, Noel Centeno, pleaded guilty to possessing a stolen motor vehicle, and the man in the car’s back seat, Jesse Sanchez, pleaded guilty to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, the records show.

Video from a city surveillance camera, first published by CWBChicago, showed officers approaching a Honda Accord in the traffic lanes of Lower Wacker Drive near Columbus Drive around 8:48 p.m. The Accord was hijacked on the 1400 block of West Farwell about a week earlier, according to a CPD report.

Prosecutors said a bodyworn camera on an officer who approached the car’s passenger side recorded the officer ordering its occupants to show their hands. The Accord backed into another vehicle that was stopped behind it, and Perez allegedly fired a handgun toward an approaching officer at close range from the front passenger seat.

Two other officers immediately fired on Perez, who was struck in the chest, arm, and leg. A bullet also grazed his forehead.

Camera footage shows smoke emanating from the passenger’s gun as they fired through the closed passenger-side window, sending shards of glass into the cop’s eye, prosecutors alleged. While the bullet did not strike the officer, he was treated at Rush Hospital for eye injuries. Another officer was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for a rapid heartbeat.

Centeno, the driver, allegedly told police that he found the car on Howard Street with the keys inside, and he didn’t know how long he had possession of it. He denied carjacking anyone. Prosecutors said he was AWOL on a pending felony gun case at the time of the Loop incident.

In a plea deal with prosecutors, Centeno pleaded guilty to possessing a stolen motor vehicle in exchange for a four-year prison sentence from Judge Aleksandra Gillespie. He also pleaded guilty to the earlier gun case, receiving a two-year sentence, records show. He is scheduled to be paroled in October 2024 after serving about half of his sentences.

Officers also found a chrome revolver in the back seat near Sanchez, prosecutors said. Sanchez allegedly told police he didn’t know anything about the vehicle but admitted that his prints would be on the revolver.

He received a one-year sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in a vehicle. He reported to Stateville Correctional Center on August 2 and was released the same day after receiving credit for the time he had already spent in custody.

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