Prosecutors refused to charge him in a murder case last year. Now, they’ve charged him with a different shooting that left 2 dead, 1 injured

Juan Ferba | Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO — Many eyebrows were raised when Cook County prosecutors refused to file murder and attempted murder charges against Juan Ferba last January, claiming he acted in “self-defense” when he shot and killed a man outside a South Side liquor store and also shot a woman who was sitting on a nearby CTA bus.

But now Ferba, 27, has another problem: Prosecutors have decided to charge him with murdering two other people and shooting a third in February 2022, about a year before the liquor store shooting that they gave him a pass on.

Self-defense

Prosecutors last year said surveillance video showed Ferba, a witness, and a man named Kristopher Willett, arriving at a liquor store near 79th Street and Cottage Grove around 3:09 p.m. on December 7, 2022.

As Willett exited Happy Food and Liquor, Ferba appeared to make a comment to Willett and then drew a gun, prosecutors said. Willett pulled out a firearm simultaneously, and, with video cameras recording, Ferba fired between 14 and 19 shots, striking Willett in the head three times, prosecutors said during the hearing.

A 21-year-old woman seated inside a nearby CTA bus was shot in her hand, officials said. Video aired by ABC7 on the night of the shooting showed at least four bullet holes in the bus windows.

Chicago police arrested Ferba on January 10 last year with plans to charge him with murder and attempted murder, according to a CPD arrest report. But a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office “rejected the first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charge for self-defense,” a police supervisor wrote in the report.

Instead, they charged Ferba with being a felon in possession of a firearm, and he went home on an ankle monitor. The case is still pending.

New allegations

In a stroke of déjà vu, a Chicago police task force went to Ferba’s home this month with plans to charge him with murder and attempted murder in a different case. This time, though, prosecutors approved the case.

Officials say Ferba shot two people in February 2022, killing one, and then fatally shot another person so there wouldn’t be any witnesses to what he had done. The shootings occurred just a couple of blocks from where the liquor store shootings would unfold months later.

Gloria Binder, 69, her husband Vincent, 57, and her adult son, Erksine, were up early, running errands on February 1, 2022. Shortly after 6 a.m., they stopped in the 900 block of East 79th Street, across from Food Town supermarket.

Erksine ran inside while Gloria and Vincent stayed in the family car. As they waited, someone opened fire on the vehicle, killing Gloria and injuring Vincent. Erskine came outside after the gunshots. The gunman shot him in the back of the head, killing him. It was his 43rd birthday.

Officials say surveillance video and phone records put Ferba at the murder scene.

He shot Erskine “to prevent any witnesses in that murder,” prosecutors said in a detention petition.

Judge Mary Marubio detained Ferba as a public safety threat. In her detention order, Marubio cited several reasons that she believed Ferba should remain in custody, including allegations that he admitted to shooting two of the victims, his “history of using a gun,” and the belief that he killed one victim to eliminate a witness.

He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

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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