ShotSpotter cited as officials charge men with murder and attempted murder, but Chicago’s mayor insists the technology doesn’t work

Mayor Brandon Johnson is standing by his decision to pull the plug on ShotSpotter in Chicago (Twitter, Salisburymistake)

CHICAGO — Mayor Brandon Johnson this week reaffirmed his opposition to the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system, standing by his decision to cancel the company’s contract after its current deal expires in September.

“Why? Because it was proven to be ineffective. ShotSpotter came to the city of Chicago, got $10 million out of us every single year because they said they were gonna keep us safe,” Johnson told the Sun-Times on Monday.

A City Council supermajority voted in support of keeping ShotSpotter last month, with most of the opposing votes coming from aldermen who represent wards that don’t have the technology. Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling has also voiced his support for the system, saying it saves lives and lets police respond more quickly.

Meanwhile, ShotSpotter continues to be mentioned in courtrooms and police reports. Among the most recent ShotSpotter-related cases we’ve come across are a murder and an attempted murder.

ShotSpotter evidence

Prosecutors cited a ShotSpotter hit as part of the evidence when they charged Antonio Jackson, 35, with murder on May 31. They said surveillance video showed Jackson raise a gun toward an occupied car as the ShotSpotter detected several gunshots at 6843 South Hermitage last June.

The shots killed Thodis Gibbs, 36, who was struck several times as he sat in the car, officials said. Jackson, a “several time convicted felon,” tossed a firearm over a fence as a U.S. Marshal chased him down late last month, according to court filings.

Judge David Kelly detained him at the state’s request on charges of murder and Class X armed habitual criminal.

In another case, ShotSpotter recorded 12 rounds fired in the 7300 block of South Wolcott on St. Patrick’s Day. Chicago cops found 12 shell casings at the scene, as well as a 45-year-old man sitting inside a bullet-riddled car with gunshot wounds to his arms.

Prosecutors last month charged Dajuan Logan, 39, with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery in connection with the case. Judge Antara Rivera detained him as a safety threat.

Other ShotSpotter cases we’ve come across lately do not involve allegations of injuries:

According to court filings, police used ShotSpotter and a surveillance camera to identify Gregory Patterson, 28, as the person who fired shots into the air at 2829 West Polk on May 18.

Police found a single shell casing on the sidewalk in front of 2829 West Polk and located a gun behind a nearby tree, officials said. Surveillance video allegedly showed Patterson placing the gun next to the tree after he fired the weapon while other people were in the area. Judge Rivera detained him to await trial.

A similar scenario led to the arrest of Juan Ambriz, 19, last week. According to a CPD report, ShotSpotter and surveillance camera footage linked him to an incident at 4800 South Albany on May 27. The video allegedly showed him pull up in a silver Dodge Durango, get out, and remove a firearm from his waist. 

He fired several times into the air and looked directly at the police surveillance camera, which recorded clear images of his face and clothing, according to the police. Police found nine shell casings at the scene when they arrived, but the gunman was gone. Cops arrested him last week after noticing that he was wearing the same hat and glasses when they stopped him on the street.

CPD officers responding to a ShotSpotter alert at 907 East 84th Street stopped Mikhail Laye, 21, because he matched the description of a person seen carrying a gun in the area, according to his arrest report. Laye ran from the cops, but they caught him when he lost his footing and fell, the report said. As the officers helped him sit up, a loaded handgun with an extended magazine fell from his waistband, according to the report. He is not charged with firing the gun that set off the ShotSpotter.

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 filed.

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

About Tim Hecke 374 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