Not-so-Happy New Year? 3 charged with firing guns into the air to celebrate the arrival of 2023 in Chicago

Chicago — Every year, Chicago police leaders ask the public not to shoot guns into the air to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. And, every year, in the city where some people show little restraint with firearms at any time, gunfire rattles the town at midnight on January 1.

“Bullets that go up must come down, and they come down at a speed and velocity that can kill,” Chicago Police Supt. David Brown told reporters during a media event on December 30.

This year, however, there’s a twist: Chicago police arrested and prosecutors charged three adults with felonies for allegedly firing guns toward the sky at midnight on January 1. The arrests occurred in different parts of the city, and two of the accused men are licensed to own firearms.

Left to right: Tilrome Bell (2021); Jacinto Hernandez, and John Secrest | Chicago Police Department; Marco Verch

About two minutes after midnight, Chicago cops on patrol on the North Side allegedly saw Tilrome Bell firing a gun into the air while standing in an alley behind the 7500 block of North Claremont.

Bell, 38, ran and tossed a gun over a fence when the officers approached him, prosecutors said, but he got caught when he tripped and fell in another yard.

According to CPD records, police recovered a 22-caliber handgun from behind the fence, an empty ammunition magazine from his pants pocket, and ten shell casings from the alley.

Bell, on bail for a felony driving on a suspended license case, is charged with unlawful use of a weapon, reckless discharge, and resisting police. He has four previous felony convictions, two for DUI and two for narcotics, but the most recent conviction is from 2014, prosecutors said.

Judge Barbara Dawkins ordered him to pay a $5,000 bail deposit to go on electronic monitoring.

Also arrested at 12:02 a.m. was Jacinto Hernandez of Cicero. Officials said Chicago police officers heard gunfire near the 2700 block of South Karlov and saw Hernandez firing a gun into the air from a back yard. 

Hernandez, 25, entered the home and tried to close the door on the cops, but an officer blocked that attempt and took him into custody, prosecutors said.

According to the allegations, cops discovered 31 shell casings in the back yard that matched an unloaded firearm found at Hernandez’s feet in the doorway. He has a permit to own firearms.

Judge Mary Marubio released him on electronic monitoring without a monetary bail payment on one felony count of reckless discharge.

Also licensed to own firearms and charged with reckless discharge is John Secrest, 26, who was arrested at 12:03 a.m. in the 10900 block of South Church Street. Chicago cops said they heard gunfire and saw Secrest fire about eight rounds into the air in an alley.

Prosecutors said he ran, dropped an unloaded gun, and then got caught. The weapon was unloaded and didn’t have an ammunition magazine in it. However, someone standing in the alley where the shots were fired was holding an empty ammunition magazine that fit the gun.

While he was in police custody, Secrest called a family member and admitted that officers caught him firing a gun, but said it wasn’t on video, according to prosecutors.

Judge Marubio also released him on electronic monitoring without monetary bail.

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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