The judge read the criminal charges aloud, including eight counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Then he asked the person before him if he understood. “No,” came the reply.
“The state is accusing you of shooting at police officers. Do you understand that?” Cook County Juvenile Court Judge George L. Canellis Jr. said.
“Yeah,” said the 12-year-old boy, his voice apparently, as yet, untouched by puberty.
In court Wednesday, Cook County juvenile court prosecutors accused the boy and another youth, age 17, of firing “several” shots in the direction of two on-duty Chicago police officers Monday evening in the 3100 block of West 13th Street. They say video cameras, gunshot residue and “self-incriminating statements” tie the boys to the crimes. The bullets didn’t hit the police officers. Prosecutors offered no possible motive for the alleged crimes.
With a slow headshake, Canellis told the boy, his mother and other family members, that — based on what he’d heard from prosecutors — he had no choice but to keep the youth locked up. Canellis pointed out that the alleged shooters had made an “active step of exiting the car” to shoot at police.
“I recognize the defendant is 12 years old. I recognize this is his first case. He’s in sixth grade. He has family here,” the judge said, before announcing his decision.
The boy was then led away. A few minutes earlier, the 17-year-old alleged shooter was also ordered to be locked up. As he was taken out of court, he sobbed and called out to his mother, “I love you, Mama!”
The 12-year-old’s mother and other relatives left the courthouse, declining repeated requests to talk to reporters.
The two youths, whom the Chicago Sun-Times is not naming because they are juveniles, are also charged with multiple counts of aggravated discharge of a weapon, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm. Prosecutors have charged another 17-year-old, accusing him, among other things, of driving the car away from the scene after the shots were fired.
The two alleged shooters stepped out of a stolen 2007 Nissan Murano and fired shots in the direction of the police officers about 8 p.m. Monday, prosecutors said in court. Then they got back in the SUV and the vehicle sped away. Police chased the SUV, which was eventually stopped in the 3700 block of South Pulaski, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said police recovered two handguns from the SUV, as well as 15 baggies containing suspected drugs from the driver of the vehicle.
In court, the 12-year-old’s assistant public defender told the judge that her client is in school and likes to play basketball. She also said his father had died of “an illness” late last year.
All three of the accused are due back in court July 14. Because they are charged — for now — as juveniles, all could potentially remain locked up until their 21st birthdays.
The encounter with the three juveniles was the third of four incidents since Friday in which on-duty Chicago officers had been fired upon, according to the Chicago Police Department — the most recent occurring just Tuesday night in the Montclare neighborhood. In three of those cases, the cops returned fire. Twice, the alleged shooters were wounded; in a third incident, a 17-year-old man accused of shooting at the cops was fatally shot by officers.