42 shots fired in gun battle that left 2 dead on Near West Side, prosecutors said; 2 men charged

The men face weapons charges after the shootout early Sunday at the Chicago Housing Authority’s ABLA homes.

SHARE 42 shots fired in gun battle that left 2 dead on Near West Side, prosecutors said; 2 men charged
Police cars, yellow tape and officers at the scene of a shooting Sunday morning in the 1300 block of West Hastings.

Police investigate the scene of a shooting Sunday morning in the 1300 block of West Hastings. Two men face weapons charges in connection with the incident, which left two men dead and three people injured.

Emmanuel Camarillo/Sun-Times

A shootout Sunday morning at a Memorial Day weekend gathering left two people mortally wounded and three others hurt by the time the gunfire ended.

The toll could have been even worse, prosecutors said Tuesday at a bail hearing for two men involved in the melee. Between 40 and 50 people were outside at the time, and multiple rounds had been fired in the direction of occupied vehicles and homes in the Chicago Housing Authority’s ABLA community.

At least 42 shell casings were recovered, belonging to a number of different guns, including a TEC-9 semi-automatic pistol, prosecutors said. And three of the people wounded, including both of the men who were ultimately killed, had fired shots.

The outbreak of violence is believed to have been related to another shooting that happened less than five hours earlier in the same block and left another man dead and a woman wounded, police said.

The deaths that resulted from just those two shootings accounted for nearly half of the gun violence fatalities in the city over the weekend, which saw seven people killed and 39 more wounded.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has charged two men with weapons violations in connection with the Sunday morning brawl: Tevin Covens, 25, faces a felony count of aggravated discharge of a firearm and 29-year-old Lawrence Wilkins is charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

Wilkins is accused of picking up and moving a gun that had been used in the shooting, while Covens allegedly fired two different guns, including the TEC-9, which he said was in self defense, prosecutors and his defense attorney Matthew Kaplan agreed.

Despite those claims, both men were denied bail when they appeared for their initial hearing on the charges Tuesday afternoon at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

After reviewing surveillance footage and talking with witnesses, prosecutors said they have pieced together what happened.

About 6 a.m., 27-year-old Martez Cox was standing outside when he was approached by a group of armed people. Cox took out a gun and fired it into the air, prosecutors said. A second man, identified as 28-year-old Antonio Green, then fired at Cox, striking him in the neck.

When Cox fell to the ground, Wilkins — who was inside an SUV near Cox — grabbed Cox’s gun and brought it inside.

Covens then grabbed that gun and fired it at Green as he ran off, prosecutors said.

Green was struck by a bullet that struck his right arm and entered into his torso, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

Prosecutors said Coven continued to fire, eventually switching to the TEC-9, and fired at another car that was occupied by multiple people. A 31-year-old woman inside was struck in the hip and a 25-year-old woman was shot in the arm, police said.

During the shootout, Coven suffered a graze wound to his nose, according to authorities. His face was still covered by a bandage when he appeared for the hearing Tuesday.

Responding officers arrived at the scene to find Covens and Wilkins inside the SUV with private security guards who patrol the community pointing guns at them, police said.

Paramedics brought Cox and Green to Stroger Hospital, but both men were later pronounced dead, authorities said. Covens was also brought to Stroger for treatment of his graze wound and was later taken into custody. Both women who were shot were brought to Mount Sinai Hospital, where they were in good condition.

Officers had been paroling the community throughout the night to disperse groups of hundreds of people who had gathered for weekend parties, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson met with command staff and housing authority officials Sunday to discuss the private security patrols that are assigned to the complex.

Police said the charge against Covens stems from the fact that his gunshots hit the sedan with the women inside. He was not charged with murder because he was firing in self-defense, police said.

Prosecutors said Covens has previous drug convictions.

Wilkins, who has felony convictions for drug possession and theft, was charged after multiple handguns were recovered from inside the vehicle he was driving, authorities said.

Kaplan, who represented both men during the hearing Tuesday, said Wilkins grabbed the gun and tried to drag Cox to safety and give him aid. Kaplan noted that Wilkins most recent conviction was a decade old. Both men are employed by temporary staffing agencies, he said.

Judge Mary Marubio ultimately denied both men bail, but scheduled a review of her order at their next hearing on June 5.

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