Legal gun owner who killed man who pointed flashlight into his car was not acting in self-defense, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Dione Weaver opened fire early Sunday, killing a man he suspected was attempting to burglarize cars in his block.

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Dione Weaver (insert)/7200 block of South Bennett Avenue.

Dione Weaver (insert)/7200 block of South Bennett Avenue.

Chicago police/Google Maps

Moments before allegedly shooting a man to death last weekend, 27-year-old Dione Weaver placed a call to 911.

During the call, Weaver told a dispatcher about a man who was acting suspiciously and shining a flashlight into cars on the same block where Weaver was parked, according to Cook County prosecutors.

If the man shined a light into his car, authorities say Weaver told the dispatcher, he was going to defend himself.

But on Tuesday, Weaver stood in a courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Court Building facing a charge of second-degree murder after authorities questioned whether he was truly acting in self-defense when he shot Larry Howard early Sunday in South Shore — one of nine fatal shootings last weekend in the city.

Prosecutors said Weaver was a legal gun owner, and though he didn’t have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, he had been properly transporting his Glock 9 mm handgun, with the unloaded firearm in his center console and a loaded magazine in the glove box.

Prosecutors say Weaver was in his car about 4:30 a.m. in the 7200 block of South Bennett Avenue when he noticed Howard walking up to parked cars in the block and shining a flashlight inside them.

Unknown to Weaver, Howard was on probation for a burglary conviction and also had prior convictions for similar charges in his background.

When another car drove by, Weaver told officers he saw Howard “crouch and appear to hide between cars,” prosecutors said. Once the car passed, Howard crossed the street and began shining a light in cars again.

Thinking that Howard was looking for items to steal, Weaver called 911 to report a suspicious person while remaining inside his car, prosecutors said.

At that point, Weaver allegedly removed his Glock from the center console and the loaded magazine from the glove box.

Weaver told police two different versions of what happened next, prosecutors said.

After Howard pointed the light inside Weaver’s rear window, Weaver initially told responding officers, Weaver fired his gun at him through the window as well as two additional shots — all while he remained in the front passenger seat, prosecutors said.

In neither that interview with officers nor the earlier 911 call did he indicate that Howard reached for anything or came toward him before the shooting, prosecutors said.

“After an eight-minute interview with scene beat officers, it was implied to [Weaver] that shining a light is not a good enough reason to shoot someone,” prosecutors said.

After Weaver was read his Miranda rights, prosecutors said his story changed: This time, Weaver said that prior to shooting, he saw Howard step back and reach behind his back. Weaver said that after firing the initial shot, he got out of his car and saw Howard approach him and “then fired four to six more times in [Howard’s] direction as he ran north on Bennett Avenue before collapsing in the street,” prosecutors said.

Howard was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center with a gunshot wound to his abdomen and a “deep graze wound” to the right side of his body. He was pronounced dead less than an hour after he was shot.

According to court records, Weaver has faced charges in Cook County only once, and that case was ultimately dropped by prosecutors in August 2018.

The charge: theft.

Weaver is due back in court Feb. 24.

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