A college student accused of participating in a gang-related shooting that left a 53-year-old grandmother dead at the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex was ordered held without bail Wednesday.
Kimberly Underwood was returning home on Nov. 6 when Devante York and others affiliated with the Bar None faction of the Gangster Disciples opened fire on her 2004 Mitsubishi Galant as she drove into a parking lot in the 1000 block of East 132nd Street, Cook County prosecutors said.
Authorities and relatives said Underwood, who had moved to the public housing complex two years earlier after she lost her restaurant manager job and was unable to keep her home in Hazel Crest, was apparently mistaken for a rival gang member.
“That was a tough decision, period,” Underwood’s sister, Sandra told the Chicago Sun-Times last year. “But you gotta live somewhere,” she said. “They killed her for nothing. It was a mistake.”
Sandra Underwood described her sister as a “beautiful, fun, happy person” who enjoyed playing bingo.
Kimberly Underwood had two daughters, 11 grandkids and a special needs adult son who she lived with and cared for, Sandra Underwood said.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Security camera footage helped authorities identify and charge 26-year-old York with the fatal shooting.
Six others — also captured on surveillance footage heading into rival gang territory in the sprawling complex — could face charges in connection with the Underwood’s murder, prosecutors said.
“While moving east, they took up positions, aimed their weapons at various locations and signaled to each other with hand gestures. However, they did not encounter anyone,” Murphy said.
When Underwood pulled up into the parking lot, one person suddenly began firing at her vehicle, allegedly leading York and the others to shoot.
The group, including York, ran off in different directions. York was later recognized in the video footage by a Chicago police officer in the Area South Gang Investigation Unit, as well as a witness who had known him since he was a boy, Murphy said.
York was additionally identified by cellphone records, the “distinctive Puma hoodie” he was wearing and a gray Jeep he was seen driving on video, Murphy said.
York was wearing the same hoodie and driving the same Jeep when he was arrested Dec. 28 on a weapons charge that is still pending in court, Murphy said.
An assistant public defender said York is a college student who most recently attended Governors State University and was 16 credits shy of obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Hearing about York’s academic career prompted Judge John F. Lyke to say, “Sometimes in your life you gotta make a decision: Are you gonna be a gangster or are you gonna be a graduate?”
York is expected back in court on June 3.