In wake of Benito Juarez High School shooting, a reward offer and calls for stricter gun laws

Gathering outside the school, activists offer $2,000 for information on gunman who killed 2 and left 2 wounded, saying police presence could have prevented the attack.

SHARE In wake of Benito Juarez High School shooting, a reward offer and calls for stricter gun laws
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Domingo F. Vargas, left, Raul Montes Jr., Bill Morton and Dr. Kim Tee speak Sunday about the shooting Friday at Benito Juarez High School. Montes said more than 700 homicides have been reported across the city this year.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Community activists on Sunday called for stronger gun control laws and to offer a reward in Friday’s shooting outside Benito Juarez High School.

“The city of Chicago continues to witness the outlandish, destructive behavior of gun violence and crime that is escalating every day without cease,” said Raul Montes Jr., a community activist who spearheaded the event. “This is a tragedy.”

Organizers at the small event outside the Pilsen campus offered $2,000 to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman who shot four teens, killing two, Friday afternoon outside the West Side school.

“We shouldn’t have to provide a reward as an incentive,” said Bill Morton, the president of the Rogers Park chamber of commerce. “The incentive should be to prevent senseless gun violence in the future.”

But offering a reward may help bring the gunman to justice sooner, Morton said.

Chicago police said the attack occurred shortly after 2:30 p.m. as students were being dismissed for the day. The next day, police released grainy surveillance images of a person matching the description of the gunman and asked the public for help in finding the killer of 14-year-old Nathan Billegas and 15-year-old Brandon Perez.

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Police say this person is wanted in connection with the fatal shooting at Benito Juarez High School on Dec. 16. Two boys were killed and two wounded.

Chicago police

Activists who spoke at the event said they were outraged after seeing the blurry images.

“It doesn’t make sense to have cameras around the school if they give grainy images and you can’t recognize faces,” Morton said. “The city or the school being cheap on the cameras is a travesty. You should be safe in a school.”

The activists said low-quality cameras and a lack of police presence around the city are to blame for the attack, which they insisted was preventable.

Billegas and Perez were struck in the head and died at Stroger hospital, according to police. Two other teens, a 15-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, were wounded. The boy was hit in the thigh and shoulder, and the girl’s thigh was grazed, police said. They were listed in good condition at the hospital, police said.

This attack marks the third fatal shooting this year during dismissal outside a Chicago public high school.

In August, four teens were shot in a drive-by attack near an ice cream shop across the street from Schurz High School. This month, a 16-year-old girl was shot and killed outside Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School.

And, according to Montes, more than 700 homicides have been reported across Chicago this year.

“When does the carnage stop? We’re tired of this” said Montes. “We need more gun control.”

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