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15-year-old charged in murder of retired firefighter was part of ‘calculated’ carjacking attempt, prosecutors said

Police characterized the suspects as a “carjacking crew” responsible for several other crimes in the area.

Dwain Williams (right) was confronted by three gunman in an attempted carjacking Dec. 3 after he left a popcorn shop.
Dwain Williams (right) was confronted by three gunman in an attempted carjacking Dec. 3 after he left a popcorn shop.
Chicago police (left)/ Chicago Fire Dept.

A 15-year-old boy faces a murder charge in the fatal shooting of a retired Chicago firefighter earlier this month outside a Morgan Park popcorn shop.

The teen, who is not being identified because he is charged as a juvenile, was unarmed at the time of the shooting. He was with two other people who had guns when they confronted 65-year-old Dwain Williams Dec. 3 in an apparent robbery attempt, Cook County prosecutors said in court Thursday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she spoke with Williams’ wife to share news about the charges.

“She was happy ... that the people responsible were found. But, as you might imagine, her life is still shattered.”

Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan characterized the suspects as a “carjacking crew” responsible for several other crimes in the area.

Police recovered a weapon and were testing it to see if it was used in the shooting, he said.

Supt. David Brown said detectives were interviewing an adult, allegedly involved in the murder, and were still searching for two other adults.

The group of carjackers, in a stolen Ford Fusion, allegedly followed Williams as he drove to Let’s Get Poppin’ at 11758 S. Western Ave.

“The time it took to follow and lay in wait for the victim shows a calculated plan,” Assistant State’s Attorney Sophia David said in court.

Surveillance cameras recorded the Ford as the driver parked near Williams’ SUV.

Chicago police show surveillance video of the murder of retired Chicago Firefighter Dwain Williams in the Morgan Park neighborhood.
Chicago police show surveillance video of the murder of retired Chicago Firefighter Dwain Williams in the Morgan Park neighborhood.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In the video of the shooting, Williams, walking toward his Jeep with a bag in his hand, is approached by two people with guns, authorities said.

Williams retreated behind his car as one suspect rushed toward him with a gun. Williams pulled out his own gun and fired. The suspect fell to the ground, jumped back in the car, and fled.

Williams was shot in the abdomen and died at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Lightfoot spoke at Williams’ funeral Saturday. Thursday, she said she was moved by his nephew’s eulogy.

“He said that if those men had given his uncle five more minutes, not only would he have talked them out of the crime they were about to commit, but he would have turned their lives in a different direction, and he would’ve been there to help them do that. Unfortunately, he did not get those additional five minutes.”

The Ford was found abandoned in Tinley Park Dec. 5.

Prosecutors said DNA and fingerprints recovered from the Ford, as well as witnesses who identified him in still photos taken from surveillance footage, eventually led to the teen’s arrest.

He faces multiple counts of first-degree murder, as well as a count of armed robbery, officials said. No charges against any other suspects have been announced.

The teen is a high school freshman in Chicago Heights. He lives with his mom and sister, and is active in sports and the local Boys and Girls Club, assistant public defender Courtenay Harris said.

The teen “was not one of the young men with a weapon,” Harris said. “He did not have a firearm in his hand.”

Judge Linda Perez ordered him held in custody ahead of his next hearing on Monday.

Perez advised him to be on his best behavior at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, saying another judge would consider his conduct there in deciding if he should be released as the case continues.

“Yes, ma’am,” the teen replied softly.

Chicago firefighters salute as the procession carrying the remains of retired firefighter Dwain Williams arrives at the Cook County Medical Examiners Office, after Williams was shot and killed in the 2400 block of West 118th St. in the Morgan Park Neighborhood, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.
Chicago firefighters salute as the procession carrying the remains of retired firefighter Dwain Williams arrives at the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Williams was a Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who retired about two years ago, officials said. He was about to return to work as a civilian employee at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

A group of activists and organizations, including the anti-violence group “I’m Telling, Don’t Shoot,” have put up a combined reward of $34,000 for information leading to any arrests in his killing.

It wasn’t immediately clear if someone claimed the reward.