Man charged with Ford City Mall shooting has a history of gun arrests — and a history of being let off lightly

Chicago — Just over a year ago, in December 2021, CWB Chicago published a story about the number of gun charges that prosecutors drop in Cook County.

The story highlighted one man as an example: Giovanni Rodriguez. Chicago police had arrested Rodriguez three times in 15 months for allegedly carrying guns illegally in Little Village. Each time, Chicago cops said their body cameras recorded Rodriguez admitting to carrying the guns. Prosecutors approved felony charges each time but dropped the first two cases within weeks.

Giovanni Rodriguez’s mugshots from gun cases in June 2020, July 2021, September 2021, and January 2023. | Chicago Police Department

In September 2021, five days after prosecutors dropped his second gun case, Rodriguez was charged with firing a gun as police looked for a man that a CPD surveillance camera operator saw holding a pistol on the street. Rodriguez told cops the gun went off as he tried to get rid of it, according to prosecutors.

And in February 2022, six weeks after CWB published Rodriguez’s history, prosecutors also revived his second gun case by securing a true bill from a grand jury, according to court records.

He pleaded guilty in August to endangering others by recklessly discharging a firearm in one case and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in the other, court records show. Judge Alfredo Maldonado sentenced him to a pair of concurrent two-year terms, which were reduced by 50% under state law. The balance of the prison time was satisfied by the credits he earned before pleading.

Rodriguez reported to Stateville Correctional Center on August 5, went home the same day, and remains on parole, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

Last weekend, six months after walking out of Stateville, Rodriguez allegedly shot a man in the Ford City Mall parking lot.

‘A firefight begins’

A concealed carry holder parked his SUV and walked toward the mall around 12:39 p.m. last Saturday. As he reached the JCPenney entrance, he received an alert that someone had opened his car door.

He turned around and saw a 17-year-old boy getting into his SUV, according to police records. The man shouted at the teen, who jumped into a Jeep that was waiting for him nearby. 

That’s when Rodriguez allegedly stepped out of the Jeep’s driver’s seat with a gun in his hand.

“Put it down!” the concealed carry holder yelled as he pulled out his pistol. He fired a shot at Rodriguez, hitting the Jeep.

“Put it down!” he yelled again.

The two then engaged in a shootout that resulted in the victim suffering gunshot wounds to his hand and leg, prosecutors alleged.

Rodriguez and the 17-year-old allegedly drove away in the Jeep, but Chicago cops who heard the gunfire and saw the shooting chased after them. The Jeep, which had two guns inside, crashed nearby.

In addition to being on parole, Rodriguez is on probation for a 2022 fleeing and eluding case in Wisconsin, and he had an outstanding warrant for criminal trespass to a vehicle in suburban Cook County, prosecutors said.

Judge Maryam Ahmad, noting that Rodriguez is accused of engaging in “in essence, a firefight” outside a shopping mall, held Rodriguez without bail.

He is charged with aggravated battery by discharging a firearm, armed violence, and burglary.

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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