ShotSpotter leads to more arrests, gun recoveries as Chicago leaders prepare to pull the plug

The ShotSpotter results from a shootout between Chicago Police Officers and a man who allegedly fired upon them during a traffic stop on March 21, 2024. (@CPD1617Scanner)

This story is part of an ongoing series of reports documenting arrests and investigations that involve the use of ShotSpotter gunfire detectors in Chicago. Mayor Brandon Johnson has committed to ending the city’s contract with the technology’s owner, SoundThinking, this autumn.

On March 4, Chicago police officers arriving on the 5400 block of West Harrison to investigate a ShotSpotter alert allegedly saw parolee Latrell Powell standing in the middle of the street. He walked away quickly, then ran, discarding a loaded firearm along the way, prosecutors say.

The cops caught him, and, according to their report, they found five shell casings in the area. Prowell, charged with Class X armed habitual criminal, was sent back to prison three days later for parole violation, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

ShotSpotter technology prompted a police response to the 2200 block of North Kedvale around 5:20 p.m. on February 21. Officers met with two people in a Chevy Malibu who told them that a man in another car fired shots at them.

At the same time, concealed carry holder Salvador Sanchez called 911 from about a block away to report that he fired a gun in self-defense, a CPD report said. He told police that the driver of another car displayed a gun, so he fired shots to protect himself, according to the report. Investigators did not find a gun in the other vehicle.

Court records charge Sanchez with four counts of aggravated assault by discharging a firearm. He was released from the police station a few hours after being arrested because that is not a detainable offense under Illinois’ new cashless bail system, his arrest report said.

On the afternoon of March 10, police responded to 1610 South Christiana to investigate a ShotSpotter alert. They found nine-time convicted felon Terry Wilson in the area, matching the description of a man provided by 911 callers, officials said.

Wilson ditched a loaded handgun under a car and tried to run away, according to a detention petition filed by prosecutors. He didn’t get far.

Surveillance video from North Lawndale College Prep, 1615 South Christiana, showed Wilson firing a gun toward an unknown person, according to the petition. It said the person was not injured, but a “puff of dirt,” apparently caused by the bullet, could be seen rising from the ground.

Prosecutors noted in the petition that the video incident occurred “at the same exact location and time as the Shotspotter alert.” Wilson is charged with Class X armed habitual criminal, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, endangering others by recklessly discharging a firearm and aggravated battery of a police officer.

Police arrested Joshua Mireles after they responded to a ShotSpotter alert in an alley in the 3800 block of West 30th Street on March 3.

They said they saw Mireles walk out of the alley wearing a ski mask and then hide behind parked cars. When they approached him for a conversation, he stood up with a loaded gun in his hand, according to his arrest report. He’s charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Previous reporting

Critics of the ShotSpotter system insist that it is inaccurate and ineffective. Some say it is racist. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx claimed that ShotSpotter does not contribute significantly to firearms-related prosecutions in the city.

Our team reads hundreds of Chicago police reports every week. We can say with certainty that ShotSpotter alerts routinely result in the arrests of armed men—and they’re almost always men—after shots are fired in the city. This series includes cases we happened to come across during our work. It is not an exhaustive list of every ShotSpotter case.

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