Chicago — A former Benito Juarez Community Academy student shot four juveniles, killing two, after asking one of the victims about his gang affiliation, officials said Saturday.
Incredibly, prosecutors said police are also working to determine if the teen may have been involved in a “shots fired” incident outside a different school after slipping away from a CPD surveillance team on Thursday afternoon.
Christian Acevedo, 16, was ordered held without bail by Judge Ankur Srivastava because he is accused of personally discharging a firearm to commit murder and could be sentenced to life in prison. After the hearing, a public defender sent a Zoom chat to the judge, apparently to point out that a newly-signed state law bans life sentences for crimes committed before a defendant’s 22nd birthday. Srivastava stood by his ruling.
Acevedo, a member of the 18th Street Bishops street gang, was expelled from Juarez last year due to issues with his behavior, academics, and attendance, according to prosecutor Thomas Darman.
He returned to the campus around 2:30 p.m. on December 16 and approached a group of high school students hanging out under a bridge connecting two buildings, Darman said. A witness heard someone say there were “Razas,” a rival gang of the Bishops, and warned the group that there was going to be trouble.
Within moments, Acevedo walked up to 15-year-old Juarez student Brandon Perez and asked him if he was a Raza, Darman said.
Perez asked Acevedo why he wanted to know, and Acevedo briefly walked away before allegedly returning and fatally shooting Perez in the head. Acevedo continued shooting, killing Nathan Billegas, a 14-year-old Chicago Bulls College Prep student.
Also injured were a 14-year-old boy who attends UIC College Prep and a 15-year-old girl who attends Juarez.
Surveillance footage showed Acevedo on campus and in the nearby neighborhood before and after the crime, but Darman said the shooting itself was not recorded.
Four people, including a Chicago police officer, identified Acevedo from surveillance images. Two people who witnessed the shooting identified him in photo line-ups.
Chicago police staked out Acevedo’s home on Thursday and saw him ride away in a stolen Hyundai with a broken side window, Darman said. The officers tried to follow him, but he slipped away.
Around 3 p.m., a similar car was involved in a shooting in the 1300 block of West Cullerton near Manuel Perez Public School, according to Darman and Chicago police records. No one was injured, but the gunfire struck a car.
A short time later, Acevedo returned to his home in the Hyundai and ran inside with a rifle, Darman said. Three other people in the car were arrested, and police found 14 shell casings inside the vehicle, according to Darman.
Acevedo surrendered to police at 3:38 p.m. after a SWAT team was notified.
Inside Acevedo’s bedroom, police found four handguns, all with loaded extended magazines attached, and three of the weapons had switches that allowed them to fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull, Darman said.
Prosecutors charged Acevedo with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm on school grounds, three counts of unlawful possession of a machine gun, and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He is also charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle.
He has no criminal background.
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