At least 11 face felony charges, 6 guns recovered downtown as Mexican Independence Day revelers flood Chicago

In social media video frames of Mexican Independence Day activities in the Loop, men put out burning debris in the street; other men ride the back of a moving Chicago Fire Department truck; and others enjoy the view as their driver does a burnout. | Snapchat

CHICAGO — At least 11 people are facing felony charges in connection with Mexican Independence Day festivities over the weekend. Chicago police officers recovered at least six firearms downtown, and two drivers are charged with trying to run down cops working the celebrations.

City officials tried to seal off the downtown area by blocking access with police cars and salt and garbage trucks. But their efforts seemed to only inconvenience downtown residents, tourists, and working folks trying to get to their jobs.

Two people were stabbed during a fight in the 300 block of North State near Wacker Drive around 12:20 a.m. Sunday. Police said a 19-year-old man was stabbed in the back and a 15-year-old boy suffered a laceration on his torso. No arrests have been made.

Guns and cars and felony charges

Saturday’s party ended early for 27-year-old Jose Cordova as he drove a carload of celebrants who were allegedly hanging out of and sitting on his car in the 700 block of North LaSalle around 8:50 p.m.

Some of the people in (or on) his car “yelled profanities” at cops in a nearby squad car, and those officers quickly noticed that Cordova’s vehicle didn’t have a front license plate, Assistant State’s Attorney Danielle Levin said.

The officers who pulled him over said they saw a woman in his car kick something with her feet. Asked if there were any guns in the car, she told the cops there was one in the glove compartment and another under the seat, and they both belonged to Cordova, Levin explained.

Cordova, who has a valid Firearm Owner’s ID (FOID) card but does not have a concealed carry license (CCL), was ordered to pay a $100 bail deposit to get out of jail by Judge Maryam Ahmad.

Two men were arrested on Wacker Drive near the Wabash Bridge. One man allegedly had a gun in the driver’s door of his car around 10:24 p.m., while the other had a firearm tucked in his waistband about 30 minutes later, according to Levin.

Chicago police officers were trying to disperse a large crowd from the 400 block of West Wacker around 12:30 a.m. Sunday allegedly saw David Garcia, 27, lighting fireworks. When they approached him, Garcia pulled out an “L-shaped object” and tossed it down toward the Chicago River, Levin said.

The gun fell short of the water, and police allegedly recovered a handgun and loaded ammunition magazine from the riverwalk below Garcia. According to Levin, Garcia also has a valid FOID but no concealed carry license.

Judge Ahmad ordered him to pay a $2,000 bail deposit but permitted him to return to DeKalb to stay with his wife and kids while the case is pending.

Let’s take a timeout here to enjoy some video from the weekend:

Around 12:20 a.m., officers went to investigate a car that was doing burnouts and spinning donuts at the intersection of Lake and LaSalle. Jovanny Arzola, 18, was a passenger in the Audi, Levin said, and cops allegedly saw a gun on the floor of the car between his legs. It was not loaded, though.

Ahmad released him on his own recognizance and told him he could return to Indiana to await trial.

About 20 minutes later, cops saw a large crowd that, based on neck and face tattoos, they suspected was composed of gang members, Levin said. The officers said they saw an “L-shaped object” weighing down Armando Rodriguez’s sweater pocket, so they patted him down. Levin said they found a loaded 40-caliber handgun.

Rodriguez, 23, has been on “first-time gun offender probation” since July 2022, Levin said.

His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Catherine Stockslager, told Ahmad she expected Fourth Amendment issues to be raised as the case progressed. The judge ordered him to pay a $1,000 bail deposit to go home on electronic monitoring.

A little further away, officers on Mexican Independence Day patrol in the 2800 block of South Kedzie decided to investigate a large crowd in a gas station parking lot.

Upon seeing an “L-shaped object” in Richard Mendoza’s satchel, the officers investigated and found a loaded handgun, Levin alleged.

Stockslager again countered that there “may be some Fourth Amendment issues” with the officers’ actions.

Ahmad set bail at $10,000, meaning Mendoza must post $1,000 to go home to Lake County.

Chicago police arrested 33-year-old Roberto Valencia in the 5100 block of South Pulaski around 10:22 p.m. Saturday. They said he threw glass bottles and fireworks toward officers working the Mexican Independence Day patrol. But he’s also charged with felony possession of a controlled substance. Levin said officers found about $500 worth of suspected cocaine in a fanny pack inside a car he jumped into as cops approached him.

Levin also presented allegations against two men who allegedly drove cars toward Chicago cops during the Mexican Independence Day party.

Jamal Turner’s troubles began near the Taylor Street exit ramp from I-94 around 10 p.m. Saturday.

Levin said officers were blocking traffic and directing drivers away from downtown when Turner drove on the shoulder to pass vehicles. She said that an officer directing traffic had to “move quickly” to avoid being struck by his car. According to Stockslager, officers instructed him to go around other vehicles to clear traffic. He denies that he tried to hit the officer.

That officer jumped into another officer’s squad car, and the cops pursued Turner until he ran red lights and started driving into oncoming traffic on Halsted Street, Levin continued. The officers ended their pursuit but eventually caught Turner after he became stuck in heavy traffic, Levin said.

The cops said they found a handgun wedged between his driver’s seat and center console, but Turner is a concealed carry license holder.

He’s charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer, aggravated fleeing, and misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, violating the concealed carry act, and possession of cannabis by a driver.

Ahmad ordered him to pay a $500 bail deposit, surrender his FOID and CCL, and stay in the house from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Erik Flores-Andrade was stuck in heavy traffic near 52nd and Pulaski on Saturday night when a Chicago police lieutenant noticed that he had a fake license plate on his car that said, “QUIET,” Levin alleged. When the lieutenant ordered him to stop, Flores-Andrade continued driving forward, and two cops had to move out of the way to avoid being hit, Levin said.

The hood of his car allegedly hit one officer’s arm.

Four squad cars filled with backup officers arrived, and Flores-Andrade is accused of hitting all four of them in a failed attempt to get away. Levin said the vehicles suffered more than $9,000 in combined damages.

Judge Ahmad, noting that Flores-Andrade just completed probation for aggravated speeding and criminal damage on September 11, ordered him to pay a $3,000 bail deposit.

But his private defense attorney said Flores-Andrade would “highly dispute the facts.”

“He couldn’t have even gone 5, 10 miles per hour,” given the heavy traffic, the lawyer continued, saying the state’s version of events “makes no sense.”

“The vehicles didn’t damage themselves,” Ahmad countered.

In another incident, a man convicted of attempted murder in 1994 is charged with battering a fallen Chicago police officer with a wooden flagpole during Mexican Independence Day festivities on Saturday morning.

Levin said officers were patrolling the area when someone fired a pellet gun at them. A crowd of people closed in on the cops and began throwing debris at officers as they tried to arrest the person who shot at them. During the melee, one of the officers fell to the ground.

While the officer was still down, Arturo Rodriguez, 46, walked up and hit him in the back of the head and right side of the neck with a “skinny flagpole stick,” Levin alleged. The incident was captured on video.

Levin said the officer suffered “pain and bruising” from the attack. Rodriguez is charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer. Ahmad ordered him to pay a $6,500 bail deposit to go home on electronic monitoring.

A Chicago police spokesperson said a 16-year-old boy was also arrested at the scene. He is charged with two counts of aggravated battery of a peace officer and two counts of misdemeanor resisting. No other information is available about the teen because he is a juvenile.

During the same confrontation, another officer was struck in the ear with a wooden flagpole, leaving him with a serious injury. A photo of the officer’s injury, which required 30 stitches to repair, has been shared online, but it is difficult to look at. No charges have been announced in connection with that attack.

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