Urban Prep senior was killed in phony gun sale that lured him to South Shore, prosecutors say

Rashad Verner was a scholar and a star on his high school’s football team, family and friends said during a memorial service after his death.

SHARE Urban Prep senior was killed in phony gun sale that lured him to South Shore, prosecutors say
A gold tie hangs a on a photo of Rashad Verner during a memorial for Verner at Urban Prep Academy High School Bronzeville Campus at 521 E 35th St in Ida B. Wells / Darrow Homes Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

A gold tie hangs a on a photo of Rashad Verner during a memorial for Verner at Urban Prep Academy High School Bronzeville Campus at 521 E 35th St in Ida B. Wells / Darrow Homes Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Urban Prep Academy senior Rashad Verner allegedly drove with a friend to an apartment in South Shore last year to buy a gun.

But the seller was actually planning to rob Verner, a star football player and scholar at the Bronzeville school. He gunned down Verner for the $350 he brought and the gun he had on him, according to Cook County prosecutors.

Two men — Justin Jones, 19, and Jasper Price, 25 — face murder charges for participating in the killing of 18-year-old Verner. The alleged gunman remains uncharged.

Verner and an 18-year-old man who was wounded in the attack had left early Sept. 28 to purchase the weapon in the 7000 block of South Paxton, prosecutors said. When the pair pulled up around 1:20 a.m., they allegedly video-chatted with someone on Facebook and showed the $350 they brought.

The two left the car and entered a vestibule of an apartment where they were told the sale would happen.

Inside, they met Jones and Price and were asked if they had any weapons, prosecutors said. Verner said he had a gun, and Jones and Price each showed weapons they were carrying.

A gunman approached from behind and said “don’t move” before firing, prosecutors said.

Verner’s acquaintance ran from the building to the car and realized he was shot in the back, prosecutors said. Verner was hit several times and fell on the stairwell inside. He died at the University of Chicago Medical Center, police said.

When police arrived, Verner’s gun was missing, allegedly stolen by Jones and Price. Three 9mm and one .45-caliber shell casings were recovered from the scene.

Detectives learned Jones lived in the building and was being investigated for a similar incident a month earlier in which a person was shot, prosecutors said.

Investigators searched Jones’ Facebook account and found photos of the alleged gun for sale and photos of Jones in the vestibule where the murder happened, prosecutors said.

Jones allegedly had conversations on Facebook shortly after the shooting in which he questioned whether he should stay in the building. He also allegedly shared a photo of the crime scene and a message indicating officers had left.

Police searched Jones’ home in the building and recovered two weapons, prosecutors said.

Detectives also searched the Facebook account of another person who had communicated with the victims and set up the ruse transaction, prosecutors said. On that account, police found photos of a person who matched the victim’s description of Price.

Cellphone records show Price was in the area of the murder at the time and left shortly afterward, prosecutors said. Price’s Facebook account also allegedly shows him selling Verner’s gun four hours after the murder.

Both Jones and Price were already in custody for earlier crimes when charges in Verner’s murder were filed: Jones for the ruse gun sale and shooting, Price for a carjacking in February.

The pair are each charged with murder, murder during a forcible felony and armed robbery.

Judge John F. Lyke Jr. ordered them both held without bail.

They were expected in court again July 12.

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