Shooting at busy 95th Street bus terminal could have been a ‘horrific massacre,’ judge says at teen’s bond hearing
Damontae Sessom was charged as an adult with attempted murder and aggravated battery in the Tuesday shooting that wounded a 27-year-old bystander as she waited for a bus.
A Cook County judge said a shooting at a Far South Side CTA bus station could have turned into a “horrific massacre” when a pair of teenagers allegedly fired at least 10 rounds, wounding a bystander during the busy evening commute Tuesday.
Judge Maryam Ahmad said she was well familiar with the 95th Street station where the shooting occurred and knew how crowded the area — near Chicago State University — can get during the evening rush hour.
“This could have been a horrific massacre ... at a monumental level,” Ahmad told one of the alleged teenage gunmen, Damontae Sessom, at a bond hearing Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Sessom is facing attempted murder and aggravated battery charges. Prosecutors said he was 16 and charged him as an adult, but his assistant public defender claimed he was 15. Citing current court records on Thursday, Ahmad said she would consider him to be 16.
Sessom’s age matters because defendants who are 16 or older and charged with aggravated battery with a firearm — and accused of pulling the trigger — are automatically transferred to adult court.
If Sessom is proven to be 15, the state’s attorney’s office would have to seek a discretionary order from a judge to transfer him to adult court.
In denying Sessom bail, Ahmad said it was “a miracle” only one person was wounded — a 27-year-old woman shot in her left shoulder while waiting for a bus.
If the bullet had struck the woman any lower on her body, the judge added, “we’d be having a hearing about a murder.”
A 13-year-old boy, also accused of opening fire, has been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and appeared in juvenile court. A 17-year-old boy who was allegedly involved is facing a reckless conduct charge, also in juvenile court, prosecutors said.
The Sun-Times does not name juveniles who aren’t charged as adults.
A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office said Thursday that the 13-year-old was ordered held in custody ahead of his hearing on June 23. Details on the 17-year-old’s case were not immediately available.
An 18-year-old man who authorities believe may have been involved could also face charges, but none had been filed as of Thursday afternoon, prosecutors said.
Surveillance cameras recorded Sessom and the three other teens walking north through the terminal shortly after 6 p.m. where they had a “brief encounter” with a group of males and then continued walking, prosecutors said.
The cameras then recorded the 13-year-old and Sessom, who was wearing a black hoodie with a red X on it, red pants and yellow sneakers, stop and begin to walk back the way they came, prosecutors said.
The younger boy took cover behind a support column and he and Sessom both drew handguns and opened fire, prosecutors said.
As the crowds in the terminal ran for cover, the 27-year-old woman was struck. She was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center for treatment, prosecutors said.
The teens ran off after the shooting, but were spotted by responding officers based on descriptions provided by multiple eyewitnesses, prosecutors said.
Sessom allegedly told officers during a pat-down search he “didn’t got it no more” — an apparent reference to the gun he used in the shooting, prosecutors said, which was not located.
A Glock 22 loaded with .40-caliber ammunition was recovered from the 13-year-old’s pocket, prosecutors said.
Sessom lives in Gary with his mother and younger brother and is enrolled in 10th grade, his assistant public defender said. He recently became “very frustrated” and stopped attending school because he was struggling academically, though he enjoyed playing for his school’s basketball team, the defense attorney added.
She asked that Sessom be given a bond so he could continue to attend school and get support, noting the boy’s brain was still developing and he shouldn’t be locked up.
Ahmad responded that the Juvenile Detention Center has “a very good school” and said she believed Sessom would be a danger to the community if he were to be released on bond.
Sessom was expected back in court June 15.