Prosecutors have charged a Chicago man with shooting at two people, including one he had an ongoing dispute with, while he was on bail for a felony gun case. Charges were filed this month, but the incident allegedly occurred on May 22, four days before prosecutors dropped his earlier gun case.
Thomas Harris is the 21st person accused of shooting, killing, or trying to shoot or kill someone in Chicago this year while awaiting trial for a felony. The cases involve at least 35 victims, ten of whom died.
During a detention hearing this month, Assistant State’s Attorney Jonathan Meacham told Judge Maryam Ahmad that Harris, 24, knew one of the victims because her son used to date his sister. He said the 42-year-old woman secured an order of protection against Harris at some point, but it was never served and had expired by the time of the alleged shooting.
On May 22, the woman received a text message from one of her tenants that included a picture of Harris sitting on the front porch of a residential property she owns in the 9400 block of South Burnside.
After he left, the woman went to the home, intending to file a police report to protect her tenants, Meacham said, according to a transcript of the proceedings.
As she spoke with the tenant who sent her the text, Harris emerged from the street, locked eyes with the woman, pulled out a gun, and started shooting toward her, and the tenant, Meacham continued. Neither the woman nor her tenant were injured because they dove to the ground.
“But for evasive maneuvers, bad aim, or some combination thereof, [these] would be facts more closely related to an ambush killing,” Meacham argued.
Four days after the incident, on May 26, prosecutors dropped the pending felony gun case they filed against him in February. Harris posted a $100 bail deposit to get out of jail on those charges after appearing before Judge Ankur Srivastava, according to court records. He has no criminal convictions.
Assistant Public Defender Gabrielle Christian questioned why it took five months for prosecutors to charge Harris since officials knew where he lived.
The fact that the only witnesses are the two people that Harris is accused of shooting at “turns this into a relative he said/she said situation,” Christian continued, arguing that the only evidence is “five shell casings and two eyewitnesses and a ShotSpotter alert.”
She said Harris helps support his four-year-old daughter, and he helps with after-school programs in the area.
Ultimately, Ahmad granted the state’s petition to have Harris detained as a safety threat before trial.
Chicago police detectives sought attempted murder charges against Harris, but the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office rejected the request, according to a CPD report. Prosecutors instead charged him with aggravated discharge of a firearm into an occupied building.
The “not horrible” series
This report continues our coverage of individuals accused of killing, shooting, or trying to kill or shoot others awaiting trial for a felony allegation. 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 awaiting trial for felony allegations 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.