CHICAGO — Three men and a 16-year-old boy, all with significant juvenile criminal backgrounds, went on a nighttime robbery spree that culminated in the murder of off-duty Chicago Police Officer Areanah Preston because one of their girlfriends wanted money for a barbecue, prosecutors said.
Judge David Kelly held all four without bail during a bond hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
Jakwon Buchanan, 18, Jaylen Frazier, 16, and 19-year-olds Trevell Breeland and Joseph Brooks are each charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, burglary, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and other felonies.
Buchanan, who has a carjacking case pending in juvenile court, was contacted by his girlfriend because she wanted money for a barbecue, Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord-Rodgers said during the bail hearing. The girlfriend and another female picked up the four accused late Friday night, and Buchanan took the wheel, driving the six of them around looking for people to rob, officials said.
All four of the males carried guns, wore black clothing, and had face coverings that covered everything except their eyes and the bridges of their noses.
Buchanan brought the car to a “screeching halt” in the 900 block of East 46th Street, and the four offenders got out with guns to rob a woman who had just parked her car, McCord-Rodgers said. They took the woman’s Louis Vuitton belt, credit cards, and identifications, then forced her to unlock her phone, which they also stole.
A few minutes later, they decided to steal a red Kia Forte parked in the 4700 block of South Indiana, McCord-Rodgers alleged. The women left in the other car, and the robbers searched for more victims while driving the Kia.
When they spotted a 62-year-old woman standing outside in the 10000 block of South Wallace, talking with her son’s girlfriend, at least three of the robbers jumped out of the Kia, pushed the women to the ground, and robbed them of a Coach purse and phone, McCord-Rodgers said.
Then two of them robbed a man who had just returned home to the 9100 block of South Merill.
Around 1:42 a.m., Preston returned home from working her shift at a Far South Side Chicago police district. Surveillance video showed the Kia rolling down the street, passing Preston’s parked car, and then returning.
Chicago Police Officer murdered
As Preston stood near the sidewalk in front of her home, the Kia stopped, and the video showed three offenders running toward her from the car. McCord-Rodgers said that muzzle flashes are seen on the video, some from near Preston and others from near the offenders.
Preston, struck by two bullets—one to her face and the other to her neck—fell to the ground.
The group ran back to the Kia, but one of the offenders dashed over to Preston’s body and took her gun, McCord-Rodgers said. The weapon has not been found. Frazier allegedly told his mother that they sold the officer’s weapon.
A Chicago Police Department ShotSpotter immediately notified CPD of nine gunshots detected at the exact address where Preston was killed. But the first officer didn’t arrive on the scene for more than 30 minutes, and only after 911 dispatchers received an alert from Preston’s Apple Watch, which believed she had been in a traffic crash.
CPD leaders refused to answer questions about the delayed response during a press conference on Wednesday morning. They said she was wearing her uniform and was killed in the line of duty.
Investigators found eleven shell casings at the scene, McCord-Rodgers said. Two were near Preston, and the others were near the area where the robbers stood. DNA testing of the casings found three profiles that are “consistent with” Preston, Buchanan, and Breeland, according to McCord-Rodgers.
Four minutes after the shooting, the group parked the Kia in the 7100 block of South Eberhardt and then walked away. Some of them are accused of returning a few minutes later to set it on fire with lighter fluid.
While police were investigating the Kia fire, they saw a car parked illegally with no license plates. It was the car that Buchanan’s girlfriend picked the robbers up in at the start of the crime spree, McCord-Rodgers said. Investigators found the first robbery victim’s identifications and credit cards inside the vehicle.
Saturday evening, Frazier called a friend and told them that the murder of the police officer on the news was “his work,” according to McCord-Rodgers. Frazier allegedly told the friend about what happened, and the friend took the information to the police. Working with investigators, the friend called Frazier on speakerphone as detectives listened in. Frazier again admitted to the crimes and revealed details that had not been released to the public, McCord-Rodgers said.
On Sunday, Buchanan called his ex-girlfriend and asked if he could stay at her house because he had to “lay low,” McCord-Rodgers said. He ordered her an Uber, and she went to pick him up at Breeland’s home in the 7600 block of South Bishop.
But law enforcement had set up surveillance on Breeland’s house, and they pulled the Uber over seconds after Buchanan climbed inside. Officials said Buchanan, wearing the first robbery victim’s Louis Vuitton belt, crawled over his ex-girlfriend to get out of the Uber, telling officers he had a gun. The weapon, tucked into his waistband, was equipped with a loaded extended magazine and a switch so it could fire automatically, like a machine gun, McCord-Rodgers said.
Officers found an unloaded gun in the Uber’s back seat. Police determined that the nine shell casings found at Preston’s murder scene were ejected by that weapon, which had fingerprints from Brooks, Breeland, and Buchanan on it, according to McCord-Rodgers.
Buchanan yelled a warning down the street to others still inside Breeland’s home, but cops surrounded the house, and the occupants were taken into custody after an hours-long SWAT standoff.
Buchanan, in addition to having the carjacking case pending in juvenile court, was adjudicated delinquent for robbery in 2019 and for criminal trespass to vehicles in 2019, 2021, and 2022, McCord-Rodgers said. He is the eighth person accused of killing or trying to kill someone in Chicago this year while awaiting trial for a felony. The cases involve eleven victims, six of whom died.
Brooks, who officials said admitted to killing Preston when she reached for her gun during the robbery, was adjudicated delinquent for aggravated vehicular hijacking last year, armed robbery in 2021 and 2019, theft in 2020 and 2019, and three more robberies in 2019, according to McCord-Rodgers.
A law enforcement source said Brooks and Buchanan “are by far in the top 10 for prolific juvenile carjackers over the last two years.”
Frazier is on juvenile probation for armed robbery. His previous juvenile adjudications include unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a stolen motor vehicle in 2020 and robbery in 2019.
Breeland is on adult probation for unlawful use of a weapon. As a juvenile, he was adjudicated delinquent for possessing a stolen motor vehicle, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, robbery, aggravated battery, and disorderly conduct.
The “not horrible” series
This report continues our coverage of individuals accused of killing, shooting, or trying to kill or shoot others while on bond for a pending felony case. CWBChicago began our series of reports in November 2019 after Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans publicly stated, “We haven’t had any horrible incidents occur” under the court’s bond reform initiative.
The actual number of murders and shootings committed by people on felony bail is undoubtedly much higher than the numbers seen here. Since 2017, CPD has brought charges in less than 5% of non-fatal shootings and 33% of murders, according to the city’s data.
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