An Ashburn man charged with the fatal shooting of a teenage boy last week claims he was defending himself and his son from gang members who were chasing him through the Southwest Side neighborhood.
Steve Kawar, 54, was charged with first-degree murder for the shooting of the 16-year-old, police said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office later identified the boy as Rodrigo Rangel.
Rangel was in a car with three friends Thursday morning when they saw Kawar’s son at a gas station near 83rd Street and Pulaski Road, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. The group — members of the Ambrose gang, according to prosecutors — “mean-mugged” Kawar’s son, thinking he might be a rival gang member.
Rangel’s group followed Kawar’s son as he left the gas station and chased him around the neighborhood “to scare him,” prosecutors said. Kawar’s son then called his father and proceeded to drive toward their home.
After about 10 minutes, Kawar’s son stopped his vehicle at an angle near 83rd Street and Springfield Avenue, blocking the way forward for Rangel and his friends, prosecutors said. Seconds later, Kawar allegedly emerged onto the middle of the street, walked toward their vehicle and opened fire.
Kawar, a concealed-carry holder, claimed that someone fired at him first, police said. However, prosecutors said that an Uber Eats driver stuck behind the car saw Kawar unload several shots before anyone returned fire.
Rangel, who was in the back seat, was shot in the head, prosecutors said. The driver and front-seat passenger fled on foot after driving a short distance away, while the back-seat passenger drove Rangel to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died.
Meanwhile, Kawar picked up his shell casings and tossed them down the street before stopping to talk to the Uber Eats driver, prosecutors said. Kawar allegedly never brought up the issue of self-defense to the driver, instead saying that he saw “Mexican gangbangers flying down the street.”
An exit hole in the car’s windshield and a shell casing recovered at the scene show that someone in Rangel’s car fired a shot, but the location of the bullet hole suggests that Kawar fired first, prosecutors said. The Uber Eats driver also saw Kawar shoot first, prosecutors said, with smoke rising from his gun at the time the first shot was heard.
Kawar was held on $350,000 bail, prosecutors said, though they asked that he be held without bond. He is due back in court Monday.
Police said early Sunday that Kawar was released without charges but later clarified that he had been hospitalized. Officials declined to say why Kawar was taken to the hospital.