Teen killed passing driver with a ‘ghost gun’ before ‘trolling the police’ at the crime scene: prosecutors

Gaven Leon, 18, allegedly told a friend he targeted 30-year-old Ryan Balbag in the Feb. 3 attack because his van “was being too loud.”

SHARE Teen killed passing driver with a ‘ghost gun’ before ‘trolling the police’ at the crime scene: prosecutors
A man is facing murder charges in a fatal shooting from Feb 3, 2022.

A man is facing murder charges in a fatal shooting from Feb 3, 2022.

Sun-Times file photo

An 18-year-old man used a “ghost gun” earlier this year to fatally shoot a passing driver from the window of his Irving Park apartment over concerns the other man’s van “was being too loud,” prosecutors said Monday.

Gaven Leon, 18, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 3 slaying of 30-year-old Ryan Balbag in the 4000 block of North Pulaski Road.

Gaven Leon

Gaven Leon

Chicago police

Leon, who had no prior arrests, surrendered to Chicago police on Sunday after witnesses identified him as the shooter, according to an arrest report. In a bond court proffer Monday, prosecutors said investigators searched Leon’s phone and found videos and pictures from the crime scene that showed him “trolling the police.”

“This is legendary footage right here. ... Who would do such a thing?” Leon allegedly said in one video. “Thank you for coming. Appreciate it. They said somebody got to shooting. I know who did it, too. I know who was shooting, too. This s--- is funny as hell. We just toying with their a--.”

The disturbing monologue came after Leon perched in the window of his apartment in the 3900 block of West Irving Park Road around 11:30 p.m. and fired at the van with the help of a laser sight, prosecutors said. After his rifle jammed, he re-loaded and fired again as a witness inside the apartment watched.

Balbag was struck in the head and later pronounced dead at Illinois Masonic, according to prosecutors and police. No shell casings were found at the scene, but the evidence against Leon is considerable.

Prosecutors said the witness from inside the apartment identified Leon as the shooter, while another witness at a gas station reported the shots came from his building. A police POD camera also showed Leon’s window opening before the shooting and closing after.

In addition, Leon allegedly showed another person the gun after the attack and admitted that he “shot someone because their car was being too loud.” Detectives also searched his Facebook account and found pictures that showed him holding a rifle similar to the “ghost gun,” prosecutors said.

Gunshot residue was eventually found on both his clothing and the windowsill, prosecutors said.

After he was placed in custody at the Grand Central police district, prosecutors said investigators went through Leon’s phone and found the videos and photos with the “trolling comments” toward police. There was also a picture from Jan. 30 with a troubling claim.

“This [person] over here doing burnouts at 2 a.m. in the f’ing morning so I shot at his a--,” he allegedly wrote.

Stephanie Schlegel, Leon’s public defender, described her client as a churchgoer who graduated from Lawrence Hall, a school in Ravenswood that serves children and young adults with certain disabilities. She said he lives with his mother and a sibling and was working two jobs at Jewel and Popeye’s.

Judge Maryam Ahmad ultimately ordered him held in custody without bail. His next court date was set for June 13.

Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation outlawing unmarked “ghost guns” and made Illinois the only state in the Midwest to ban such weapons.

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