Two men accused of participating in a paintball gun attack are among the first people charged in a citywide surge of apparently random paintball gun shootings.
“We’ve got young men driving around the city of Chicago with paintball guns,” Judge David Navarro said Monday. “Somebody just standing there, getting hit out of the blue, would be painful, shocking, aggravating — to say the least.”
The pair were cruising around the Southwest Side Wrightwood neighborhood when the backseat passenger stepped out and fired a paintball gun five or six times at a man walking to work, Cook County prosecutors said.
The man “felt something whiz by his ear” and ducked about 12:35 p.m. Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Jocelyn Schieve said. The paintballs grazed the 53-year-old’s ear and hit his side and elbow, where a welt formed.
The unmasked shooter, David Cox, 20, stepped back in the car and drove off from the 8100 block of South Troy Street — but police were already responding to the area, Schieve said.
Police were called five minutes earlier by another driver who thought he saw someone holding a gun in the back of a car, she said. Officers spotted a Nissan with matching plates and pulled over the car with Deonte Gibson driving, a juvenile front seat passenger and Cox in the back, Schieve said.
Police allegedly found a paintball gun, a sack of green paintballs and two pellet guns. The paintball shooting victim walked the couple of blocks to the traffic stop and allegedly identified the shooter to police. The victim did not know Cox and Gibson, 18.
The pair both live with their mothers and graduated from high schools in Chicago, their attorney said.
“The police roll up on this scene... and they don’t know what these weapons are,” Navarro said.
“They don’t know if what they’re seeing is a real firearm or a paintball gun. And it can just get worse from there,” Navarro said while ordering the pair held on $10,000 bail, with home electronic monitoring as a condition of bond.
They each face a count of aggravated battery. The unnamed juvenile faces a charge of reckless conduct.
The charges appear to be the first filed in connection to skyrocketing paintball gun attacks across Chicago. More than 200 attacks happened in September and October — nearly five times the 42 paintball shootings reported from January to August. Most of the shootings were on the South and West sides.
Last week, police said they arrested a half dozen people after a spate of paintball shootings in Lawndale. But the suspects were all released without charges with no explanation.
Cox and Gibson, who have no criminal history, are expected in court again next week.