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Man charged with killing woman, 88, wounding another at Park Manor apartment

A SWAT team responds to an armed man barricaded in an apartment early Monday in the 7000 block of South Prairie Avenue. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A man has been charged with a shooting that killed one member of his family and wounded another early Monday at a Park Manor neighborhood apartment, days after he was released from a mental health facility.

Letwan Taylor, 19, faces felony charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Just after 1 a.m., Taylor shot 88-year-old Valoria E. Taylor, his step-great-grandmother, and a 39-year-old woman who is his step-aunt, authorities said. He was staying at their apartment after being released from Ingalls Memorial Hospital in south suburban Harvey, where he was receiving mental health treatment.

Video by Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Taylor had been released from Ingalls on Thursday and arrangements were made for him to stay with his step-grandfather at the two-flat apartment building in the 7000 block of South Peoria, Assistant State’s Attorney Rachel Mabbot said in court Tuesday afternoon at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. Taylor’s step-grandfather lives on the first floor of the building and Taylor was given a place to stay with his step-great-grandmother on the second floor.

On Monday night, Valoria Taylor was at home with Letwan Taylor and his step-aunt, who was spending the night, when the 39-year-old woman woke because the apartment was too hot, Mabbott said. She and a conversation with Letwan Taylor about turning up the thermostat too high, and when she tried to leave the apartment through the front door Letwan Taylor pulled her back inside. She then tried to leave through the back, but was pulled inside again and taken to a bedroom, where Letwan Taylor pulled down his pants and exposed himself to her.

Letwan Taylor | Cook County sheriff’s office
Letwan Taylor | Cook County sheriff’s office

She ran from the bedroom screaming and Letwan Taylor followed her with a gun, Mabbot said. The commotion woke Valoria Taylor, who confronted Letwan Taylor, and he began firing at both women.

Taylor’s 39-year-old step-aunt was shot in the head, but was able to run to the apartment’s hallway, where other members of the family awoke and came out of their apartment to see Taylor holding a gun to her head after beating her with it several times. They went back into their apartment when he pointed the gun at them and they called police.

A SWAT team responds to an armed man barricaded in an apartment early Monday in the 7000 block of South Prairie Avenue. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
A SWAT team responds to an armed man barricaded in an apartment early Monday in the 7000 block of South Prairie Avenue. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Officers arrived and saw Letwan Taylor still standing on the stairs with the 39-woman beside him covered in blood, Mabbott said. He ran back into the second-floor apartment and officers set up a perimeter and called a SWAT team. During the standoff he admitted to negotiators that he shot both women, Mabbott said.

The standoff ended when he gave himself up to police about 7:30 a.m., authorities said. Valoria Taylor’s body was found inside the apartment with gunshot wounds to her chest and back and she was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. A .32-caliber handgun was recovered, as well as multiple fired bullets, shell casings and live ammunition, prosecutors said.

The 39-year-old woman was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was stabilized, authorities said. In addition to the gunshot wound, she also suffered a broken nose, facial fracture and skull fracture.

Letwan Taylor was take to St. Bernard Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and was still hospitalized Tuesday, a police officer testified in court. Due to his hospitalization, Taylor’s court-appointed attorney said he could not provide testimony on his behalf during the hearing.

Judge Sophia Atcherson ordered Taylor held without bail and signed an order to move him to Cermak Hospital at the Cook County Jail when he is released from St. Bernard.

Prosecutors said Taylor was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear for a court date on a pending DUI charge when he was taken into custody.

His next hearing was scheduled for Friday.