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Gun used in Hyde Park-to-Evanston killing spree likely used in prior South Side shootings

Newly obtained police reports link the Glock handgun Jason Nightengale used in his Jan. 9 rampage to five other shootings on the South Side between 2009 and 2016.

Police say this Glock handgun was used by Jason Nightengale in a Jan. 9 shooting rampage that left five people dead.
Police say this Glock handgun was used by Jason Nightengale in a Jan. 9 shooting rampage that left five people dead.
Evanston Police Department

The .45-caliber Glock pistol Jason Nightengale used in a January killing spree that began on the South Side and ended in Evanston was likely used in five prior shootings in Chicago dating to 2009, according to police reports obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Nightengale, 32, killed five people, including a University of Chicago student in an East Hyde Park parking garage, a doorwoman of a nearby condo building, a convenience-store worker on the South Side, a woman he took hostage at an IHOP restaurant in Evanston and a 15-year-old girl, Damia Smith, who fought for her life for more than three weeks at Comer Children’s Hospital before she died.

About four hours after the Jan. 9 rampage began, Evanston officers killed Nightengale — who also wounded two other people — in a shootout outside a Dollar General store there.

Chicago police reports provide new details about the gun authorities say Nightengale used as well as about his bizarre interactions with his victims.

Nightengale, a father of twin girls, listed jobs over the years as a janitor, security guard, taxi driver and forklift operator, according to his LinkedIn page.

He “was fighting some demons,” his family has said. During the week before the shootings, he posted videos online, ranting about Satan, waving a gun and talking about wanting to kill people.

Jason Nightengale in a security guard shirt.
Jason Nightengale in a security guard shirt.
Chicago police arrest photo

Police haven’t said anything about a motive for the killings, which appeared to be random.

Officers collected bullet casings from the crime scenes along with the Glock 21 pistol he was carrying when he was killed. The Chicago Police Department crime lab test-fired the gun, compared the markings on those casings to those found at the crime scenes and found they matched.

The lab also found that the gun appeared to be linked to bullet casings found at five other shootings on the South Side between 2009 and 2016.

According to the police reports and news accounts, those five shootings included:

  • A 16-year-old boy who “heard shots and felt pain” and realized he was shot at 7:55 p.m. June 2, 2009, in the 7400 block of South Colfax Avenue . The case was closed without an arrest after the teenage victim refused to cooperate.
  • A person wounded on a sidewalk at 11 p.m. Dec. 23, 2009, in the 7800 block of South Ridgeland Avenue. The investigation was suspended without an arrest.
  • A 31-year-old man wounded in the ankle and mouth at 10:52 p.m. Aug. 8, 2011, on the street in the 7800 block of South Cregier Avenue. This investigation also was suspended without an arrest.
  • A 24-year-old man wounded in the head by someone shooting from an alley at 3:45 p.m. July 24, 2014, in a yard in the 8000 block of South Manistee Avenue. The investigation remains open.
  • A person wounded on a sidewalk at 3:25 a.m. Oct. 30, 2016 in the 12300 block of South Emerald Avenue. The case was closed without an arrest because the victim wouldn’t cooperate.

Police also found a shell casing in the 0-100 block of East 120th Place that was linked to the Glock, but there wasn’t a report of a crime there.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the history of the gun and learned it was bought in 2006 at Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale. A police source said the owner of the gun had reported it stolen.

It’s unclear from the detectives’ reports when or how Nightengale obtained the gun, and they haven’t said whether they think he was involved in any of the earlier shootings.

The detectives’ reports also detail some of Nightengale’s erratic behavior that day.

After he killed 30-year-old University of Chicago graduate student Yiran Fan, who was sitting in a car in a parking garage in the 5000 block of South East End Avenue, Nightengale entered an apartment building a block away.

Aisha Nevell, who was staffing the door, let Nightengale in after he said he needed to use a phone because he’d been in an accident. Nightengale took off his right glove, pulled out the gun and killed the 46-year-old woman. He also wounded a 77-year-old woman, shooting her in the mouth.

Then, he went to the 5500 block of South East End, where it’s believed some of his relatives once lived, and got on an elevator with a 74-year-old man he knew, police said. When they exited on the floor where the man lived, Nightengale announced, “This is a holdup. Keep walking,” and followed him to his apartment.

In the kitchen, Nightengale set down the bottle of Arizona Iced Tea he was holding, a pack of Newport cigarettes and a pair of black The North Face gloves. He asked for and got a glass of water, then took $37 and the key fob to the man’s red Toyota hatchback, which he drove during the rest of his spree.