14-year-old pegged as ‘teen trend’ killer is released without being charged

CHICAGO — The 14-year-old boy arrested by Chicago police moments after a gunman shot two teenagers at a “large group” incident in the South Loop on Saturday, killing one, has been released without being charged.

The shooting in the BMO Harris Bank parking lot at 522 West Roosevelt occurred around 8:06 p.m. as hundreds of teens gathered in the area in response to invites circulating on social media. Cops were already in the area, and some were just steps away from the shooting. One of them immediately radioed “shots fired” and helped chase down the 14-year-old and another teen.

Jeremy Smith, 17, died from gunshot wounds to his neck and chest, police said. A 15-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to his leg.

Investigators recovered a firearm and shell casings at the scene. At least one witness fingered the 14-year-old as the shooter, according to a law enforcement source.

As recently as midday Sunday, a Chicago police spokesperson said charges were still pending against the teen. But he has since been released as detectives continue their investigation.

Many other teens were detained as CPD supervisors ordered officers to lock up anyone who failed to disperse. Of those, twelve were charged or cited. Eight juveniles and an adult are charged with misdemeanors, mostly disorderly conduct. Another three juveniles were cited for curfew violations.

A video showing part of the gathering was quickly posted to the Chicago Critter account on Twitter. The footage shows dozens of people gathered in the Verve Credit Union parking lot across the street from where the shooting occurred. Officers are seen arresting at least two people in the clip. Note that the following video includes NSFW language:

Saturday’s gathering was the first major “large group” incident in the downtown area since July 30, when up to 400 young people gathered in the same area and looted stores. Cops arrested 40 people—only three of whom were adults—and seized three firearms.

Mayor Brandon Johnson criticized a reporter who referred to the incident as “mob action,” a legal term in Illinois that relates to unlawful assembly and two or more people assembling to commit an unlawful act.
Johnson, apparently unaware that mob action is a crime, seemed to think the reporter was comparing participants in the gathering to the Mafia.

“This is not to obfuscate what has taken place, but we have to be careful when we use language to describe certain behavior,” Johnson said. “There’s history in this city. To refer to children as ‘baby Al Capones’ is not appropriate.”

Other “large groups” gathered during the summer, with incidents at 31st Street Beach and near the Belmont CTA station in Lakeview being among the most notable.

A string of social media “trends” on April 13, April 14, and April 15 last year culminated with two teenagers being shot during the third gathering. Johnson, then a candidate for mayor, called the incidents “unacceptable” while also scolding the public for “demonizing” the people involved in the unrest.

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About Tim Hecke 252 Articles
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 tim@cwbchicago.com