ShotSpotter led cops to parolee who fired gun while threatening a postal worker, Chicago police report says

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.

CHICAGO — A man with seven felony convictions in his background, including one for attempted murder, is found lying on the street with a gunshot wound and a loaded gun. Another man on parole for his seventh felony conviction is arrested after firing shots into the air while threatening a postal worker. Yet another man is arrested when police see him leaving the scene after firing shots into a bar at closing time.

According to Chicago police reports and prosecutors, those are just a few of the results that ShotSpotter has helped officials garner in the past two weeks. Here are the details.

Early last Friday, April 5, a ShotSpotter reported shots fired at 7540 South Paxton in the South Shore neighborhood. When officers arrived, they found Jerome Watson, 43, lying on the ground, leaning against a fence, and holding his ankle, which had a through-and-through gunshot wound, according to a CPD report.

After paramedics loaded him into an ambulance, the police allegedly discovered a bloody handgun lying on the other side of the fence. They asked Watson if he had been defending himself, and they informed him that the gun would be dusted for prints.

From left: Jesus Alvarado, Octaviano Bailon, and Jerome Watson (Chicago Police Department, SoundThinking)

Upon hearing that fingerprints would be collected from the weapon, he admitted that the gun was his, the police report said. 

Prosecutors charged him with aggravated discharge of a firearm toward an occupied vehicle, repeat unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, armed habitual criminal, and possessing a controlled substance.

Judge Lindsay Huge detained Watson, whose criminal background includes a 1998 attempted murder conviction, a 2019 gun conviction, and five other felonies that resulted in prison time.

Around 1 p.m. on March 29, police responded to a ShotSpotter alert in the 3000 block of South Homan. At the scene, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier told them that a man began “harassing” him and calling him a “GD,” slang for Gangster Disciple, police later wrote in an arrest report.

The man told the mail carrier he would have his dog attack him and then raised his shirt to display a firearm, the report said. After the postal worker walked away, the same man allegedly approached another passerby, displayed the gun in his waist, and asked, “Do you think I’ll shoot you?”

He pulled the gun from his waist and fired two shots into the air, triggering the ShotSpotter, the police report said.

Officers arrested the man identified as the gunman by the mail carrier and the second victim: Jesus Alvarado, a 40-year-old who has been on parole since January.

He is charged with two counts of endangering others by recklessly discharging a firearm, two counts of aggravated assault by discharging a firearm, and multiple counts of resisting police.

The state revoked his parole, and he returned to prison this week. He is expected to be detained in the Cook County jail to await trial after he’s released from prison in July.

Alvarado’s previous convictions include endangering others by recklessly discharging a firearm in 2021, vehicular hijacking in 2017, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2009, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Early on April 7, Octaviano Bailon became enraged upon seeing the bill he racked up while drinking at Culichitown, 7601 South Cicero, prosecutors said. He yelled at the staff and threatened that he would shoot them if he had his gun, prosecutors said in a detention petition. Security escorted him from the building and locked the door.

Bailon went to his home in Burbank, got his gun, returned to the restaurant, and fired shots at the building, striking the window and a parked car, the petition said. Chicago police officers heard the gunfire, and a ShotSpotter directed them to the restaurant’s address. They arrested Bailon nearby.

Officials said he admitted to firing the shots to “show the security guards he wasn’t messing around” and because he “felt disrespected.”

He’s charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm toward an occupied building, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and two misdemeanors.

Officers recovered ten shell casings at the scene and recovered a firearm from Bailon, Judge Ankur Srivastava wrote in a detention order.

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.

Original reporting you’ll see nowhere else, paid for by our readers. Click here to support our work.

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