Five men linked to a deadly gang-related shootout Friday in Austin were released from custody after prosecutors declined to charge each of them with a pair of felonies, including first-degree murder, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has asked the prosecutors to reconsider.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday slammed Mayor Lori Lightfoot for raising alarms about the case and said the mayor had her facts wrong.
But a short time later, Lightfoot brushed off Foxx’s claims and announced that she’d effectively circumvented her by asking U.S. Attorney John Lausch to review the evidence to see if there’s a possibility for federal charges, Lightfoot told reporters.
The mid-morning gunfight left one shooter dead and two of the suspects wounded. It stemmed from an internal dispute between two factions of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang, according to an internal police report and a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.
Chicago Police said around 10:30 a.m. Friday, 25th (Grand Central) District tactical officers responded to a call of a man with a gun near Potomac and Mason avenues. When they arrived on the scene, they saw four people get out of two cars in front of a home in and start shooting at the house, CBS reports.
People inside the home returned fire, shooting one of the attackers, as other assailants fled the scene in the two vehicles.
The assailant who was shot was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Two people who were wounded inside the home also went to the hospital, but their conditions were not available.
One of the vehicles that fled the scene was later found burned out near Lockwood and Chicago avenues. The second vehicle that fled the scene crashed in Oak Park near Austin Boulevard and Harrison Street. Oak Park police said the driver ran off after crashing, but was arrested in the 700 block of Lyman Avenue, with the help of Chicago Police and a canine unit.
Police said two other people were taken into the custody of Area Five detectives before they were eventually all released.
“They were shooting to kill,” Mayor Lightfoot said Tuesday. “There has got to be accountability for them, and that accountability has to start with getting a good investigation, getting them charged, and holding them responsible in a court.
The source said police sought to charge all five suspects with murder and aggravated battery. By Sunday morning, a Chicago police spokeswoman acknowledged the suspects had “been released without charges.”
In a statement later Sunday, Cristina Villareal, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, explained that prosecutors had “determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges.” Police officials agreed with the decision, Villareal added.
But the report also framed the state’s attorney’s office’s decision to decline charges in a different light: “Mutual combatants was cited as the reason for the rejection.” Mutual combat is a legal term used to define a fight or struggle that two parties willingly engage in.