CHICAGO — Officials say an 18-year-old Kia Boy with “several” pending criminal cases was the getaway driver for a group of men who shot and killed a 15-year-old on the West Side in September.
Judge Kelly McCarthy detained Zion Rogers as a public safety threat, pointing to his “several pending criminal cases” as one reason he should not be released into the community.
He is the 31st person accused of participating in a murder or attempted murder in Chicago last year while awaiting trial for a felony. The cases involve at least 47 victims. Sixteen of them died.
Prosecutors told McCarthy that surveillance video from September 2 showed Rogers breaking out the rear passenger window of a Kia, climbing inside, and driving it away without using a key—the standard operating practice of “Kia Boys,” who exploit a design flaw to steal certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
The next evening, that Kia pulled onto the 2900 block of West Walnut. At least three gunmen got out of the passenger seats to shoot and kill 15-year-old Tyler Westmoreland on the sidewalk, according to prosecutors.
He suffered 16 gunshot wounds, prosecutors said, and investigators found 21 shell casings at the scene from three different calibers.
Chicago Police Department surveillance cameras and license plate readers racked the Kia as it sped from the area, running red lights. The camera video showed the driver wearing light blue gloves and a black top with a white emblem on the chest, prosecutors said during Rogers’ detention hearing.
CPD’s helicopter began tracking the Kia within a few minutes of the murder. Video recorded from the chopper showed Rogers wearing blue gloves as he drove the Kia across the city, the state’s proffer said.
Officials said he stopped briefly in an alley, allowing four passengers wearing black clothing to run away on foot. Then he continued driving alone, reaching high speeds and running red lights as the police helicopter shadowed him from above.
Rogers eventually crashed into a parked car in the 1200 block of North Clybourn, prosecutors said. He ran, but the helicopter followed him until ground units took him into custody about 33 minutes after the murder, according to the proffer.
Cops found the Kia’s steering wheel stripped and a single .38-caliber bullet on the driver’s floorboard, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors charged Rogers with possessing a stolen motor vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident, and he went home to await trial. They recently added a first-degree murder charge.
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.
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org