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Man on parole charged with fatal shooting last summer in Grand Crossing

Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue

Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue. | Supplied photo

Prosecutors say the gunman who killed 26-year-old Lorenzo Williams last summer in Grand Crossing was on parole for a 2015 weapons charge at the time of the shooting.

Williams was walking about 2 p.m. July 11, 2018 in the 7800 block of South Greenwood when 24-year-old Demarlo Thomas snuck up behind him and shot him in the back, Cook County prosecutors said during a hearing Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Just before the shooting, Thomas had been riding in a vehicle with two other people when he spotted Williams walking in the area, prosecutors said. Thomas told the driver to pull over so he could “serve” Williams and was let out of the car.

Thomas then cut through several residential backyards to catch up to Williams and fired when he came up behind him, prosecutors said.

Demarlo Thomas | Cook County sheriff’s office

A person who heard the gunshots and looked out their window was able to identify Thomas as the man they saw putting an object in his waistband and climbing over a fence immediately after the shooting, prosecutors said.

Back at the car, Thomas told the driver that he needed to get rid of the gun, according to prosecutors. The driver took Thomas to an alley on Blackstone Avenue and parked while Thomas went to dispose of the weapon. All three people in the car then went to the second passenger’s home, where they stayed for several hours.

Prosecutors did not say whether the gun had been recovered and described the driver and second passengers as witnesses in the case.

Cellphone records were used to place Thomas in the area at the time of the shooting and also later in the day at the second passenger’s home, prosecutors said.

Thomas was on parole at the time of the shooting for a 2015 charge of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, prosecutors said.

He was arrested July 22 last year in a separate case and charged with felony counts armed habitual criminal and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to Chicago police, but additional information about the case was not available Thursday night.

Thomas pleaded not guilty to those charges in August and was being held at the Cook County Jail on $50,000 bail when he was charged with first-degree murder in Williams’ slaying, according to court records.

Judge Mary Marubio ordered Thomas held without bail during a hearing Thursday on the murder charge.

A public defender for Thomas said he was a lifelong resident of the city who was working at a barbershop before he was arrested in July.