Foxx, Lightfoot announce gun charges tied to deadly Austin gunfight that caused a public clash between the two

Only one man, Thomas Dean, has been charged in the Oct. 1 shooting in the 1200 block of North Mason, even though police initially sought murder and battery charges against five people.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, listens as Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks to reporters at a press conference announcing weapons charges against 20-year-old Thomas Dean for his role in a shooting in the Austin neighborhood in October, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, listens as Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks to reporters at a press conference announcing weapons charges against 20-year-old Thomas Dean for his role in a shooting in the Austin neighborhood in October, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Months after publicly clashing over a deadly shootout in Austin, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx appeared together Thursday to announce gun charges against a man who was wounded in the gang-related exchange of gunfire.

Thomas Dean, 20, was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after he was found with three guns used in the shooting, according to police. Foxx said at least one was a “machine gun.”

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Thomas Dean

At the time of his arrest, Dean was facing three additional gun charges in a separate case, Cook County court records show.

No one else has been charged in the Oct. 1 gunfight in the 1200 block of North Mason that left one of the shooters dead and two people wounded, including Dean. Area 5 detectives had initially sought to charge five people with murder and aggravated battery, but they weren’t pursued by Foxx’s office because of what she described as a lack of evidence.

The rejection sparked an ugly back and forth between Foxx and Lightfoot. The mayor warned that a lack of accountability could “send this city into chaos,” while Foxx claimed Lightfoot had her facts about the shooting wrong.

On Thursday, though, the two leaders presented a unified front as they have regularly in recent weeks.

“Today’s charges are an example of how the system works through collaboration and the fact that we are all working together to keep our communities safe,” Foxx said. “And I’ve said before, and I will continue to say, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office will make charging decisions based on the facts, the evidence and the law — no matter how long it takes to get the result.”

The investigation remains open and more charges are expected “in the coming days,” Foxx said, noting that a search warrant was approved for another suspect.

Lightfoot said the message being sent Thursday was “accountability,” despite the fact that many of the people involved in the brazen shootout have so far not been charged. Pressed about that, she insisted that officials “will work diligently to bring those accountable to justice.”

“We are not going to let Austin or any other neighborhood turn into the wild, wild west where people are not held accountable for what they do,” she said.

The shooting stemmed from an internal dispute between factions of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang. Caught on police surveillance video, it played out like a scene from an action movie.

At least three people linked to the gang’s Body Snatchers jumped out of two Dodge Chargers and started shooting into a home, according to a police report and a source with knowledge of the incident. Members of the Jack Boys faction who were inside the home fired back.

Brown said Dean was wounded and dropped off at a hospital, although neither he nor Foxx would comment on whether Dean is seen on the video being shot.

Dean was previously arrested in December and later indicted in that case on three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, court records show. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges and was free on bond.

In addressing the rift over the case, Lightfoot also sought to highlight her partnership with Foxx and their common goals.

“I believe our unity comes from our individual and collective commitment to do everything possible to both prevent crimes from happening in the first instance, but also that when something does happen, to be relentless in bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice. And that’s what I think these charges today are really all about.”

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