After prison, Raygene Jackson was working toward a better future, but new life cut short by gun in a ‘city in ruins’

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Raygene Jackson | Facebook

By TYLER HOLMES
Homicide Watch Chicago

Raygene Jackson was a repentant man with a troubled past and a promising future. After being paroled from prison last year for a crime he committed when he was 17, Jackson was determined to improve life for himself and everyone around him.

“He made mistakes and he did the time for his mistakes. But he was sorry,” said Pamela Roberts, Jackson’s godmother. “He was a compassionate person. He was a lovely, caring person.”

Jackson had been with his fiancée, Faydra Rhinehart, since they were teenagers and she always remained by his side. The two were working on purchasing a house and getting married, hoping to start a life that had been put on hold for 20 years.

“When he was with me, he was the young sweet boy his mother raised,” Rhinehart remembered. “I’ve known him since I was a kid. I’ve loved him my whole life.”

Together, they had a daughter in 1994, before she was tragically shot at age three in 1997. Rhinehart later had another daughter whom Jackson happily embraced as his own.

“He never got the chance to raise any of his kids,” Rhinehart said. “He got locked up as a boy and came out a man. His life was changed. He said, ‘It took me a long time to do it, but I accepted God and I did change’.”
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Judge finds Erick Horton not guilty of 2014 slaying of Nigell Vazquez on Chatham neighborhood porch

By JORDAN OWEN
Chicago Sun-Times Wire

Erick Horton | Cook County Sheriff's Dept.

Erick Horton | Cook County Sheriff’s Dept.


A 36-year-old man has been released from the Cook County Jail after he was acquitted of the 2014 murder Nigell Vazquez in the South Side Chatham neighborhood.

Erick T. Horton was found not guilty Wednesday after a bench trial before Judge Kenneth Wadas, according to Cook County court records.

Horton had been accused of shooting the 22-year-old Vazquez in the 8600 block of South Ingleside Avenue about 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 4, 2014, authorities said.

Vazquez had been standing on a porch when two men walked up and started shooting, Chicago Police said at the time. A witness told police she heard about a dozen shots.

Nigell Vazquez | Facebook

Nigell Vazquez | Facebook


Vazquez, of the 1700 block of East 56th Street, was shot twice in the back, and died about an hour later at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Horton was arrested about six weeks after the shooting, and had been held without bond. He was released Wednesday, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.

Devon Almon killed in second fatal shooting on Eisenhower Expressway in just six hours Thursday morning

By JORDAN OWEN
Chicago Sun-Times Wire

Devon Almon was shot and killed on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway late Thursday morning, the second fatal shooting in just over six hours on the West Side interstate.

Troopers responded to shots fired about 11:50 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of I-290 at Central Avenue, according to Illinois State Police.

A passenger in the vehicle, the 23-year-old Almon, was shot, and the driver took him to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, authorities said.

Almon, whose home address was not immediately known, was pronounced dead at 12:20 p.m., authorities said. The female driver was not wounded.

The ramp from I-290 eastbound to Central Avenue was closed for more than two hours after the shooting, but has since reopened.

It was the second fatal shooting on the expressway in about six hours.

Johnathan Ortiz, 22, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital after he and his girlfriend were shot while driving on outbound I-290 about 5:30 a.m. The woman was listed in critical condition.

There have been 41 shootings on Chicago-area expressways so far in 2016, police said. Last year, there were 39 all year.

Anyone who witnessed either of the shootings is asked to call state police at (847) 294-4400. Callers can remain anonymous.

Jonathan Ortiz, who rapped as John Doe, killed in shooting on outbound Eisenhower Expressway

The first of two fatal shootings in a six-hour span Thursday morning on the Eisenhower Expressway claimed the life of Jonathan Ortiz, an aspiring rapper who performed under the stage name John Doe.

Ortiz and his girlfriend were shot about 5:30 a.m. on outbound I-290 near Laramie Avenue, according to Illinois State Police.

They were found a few minutes before 6 a.m. after leaving the expressway and driving to Flournoy and Lockwood, just north of the interstate. The driver’s side window of their Jeep was shattered.

Both victims taken to Stroger Hospital, police said.

Ortiz, 22, was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:18 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He lived in the 3100 block of West Monroe.

The woman, 23, was originally listed in critical condition, police said.

Ortiz was a popular rapper who performed as John Doe. He performed Sept. 9 at the House of Blues and was scheduled to open for Drake and Future on Oct. 5 at the United Center, according to family members.

A GoFundMe page set up to help his family with funeral expenses had raised more than $4,000 in the first 24 hours.

Police say Treamel Gray was shot to death while trying to rob two men in Bronzeville, but friends don’t believe it

Chicago Police say Treamel Gray was fatally shot while trying to rob another man Wednesday night in the Bronzeville neighborhood, though friends do not believe that version of the incident.

Police say a man with a valid concealed carry license fatally shot a man who was trying to rob him Wednesday night in Bronzeville. | Network Video Productions

Police say a man with a valid concealed carry license fatally shot a man who was trying to rob him Wednesday night in Bronzeville. | Network Video Productions


A 22-year-old man was sitting in a vehicle with another man about 8:20 p.m. in the 4300 block of South State when two men armed with handguns walked up and announced a robbery, according to police.

The man then pulled out a gun and shot one of the would-be robbers in the head, while the other suspect ran away, authorities said.

Gray, 23, was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:35 p.m., the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. He lived in the 18900 block of Avers Avenue in south suburban Flossmoor. An autopsy Thursday ruled his death a homicide.
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Alvonta Pinex, aka Vonta West, dies three days after being shot during argument with man in Englewood

Alvonta Pinex of south suburban Riverdale died Tuesday evening, three days after he was shot during an argument in the Englewood neighborhood early Saturday. He was better known to friends as Vonta West.

Pinex, 27, got into an argument with another man at 2:24 a.m. Saturday in the 7200 block of South Aberdeen. The other man then pulled out a gun and fired shots, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Pinex suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso, and was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died at 5:39 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said. He lived in the 14100 block of South Tracy Avenue in Riverdale.

As of Thursday morning, no one was in custody in connection with the shooting.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

Arian J. Smith found shot to death in the kitchen of his home in Ashburn

Police called to a home in the Ashburn neighborhood Tuesday afternoon found the body of Arian J. Smith, who had been shot in his own kitchen.

Police were called at 4:29 p.m. to the home in the 3800 block of West 84th Place, where they found 32-year-old Smith dead on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Smith was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:36 p.m., according to the medical examiner’s office.

Area Central detectives are conducting a homicide investigation, and are trying to determine if the incident may have been a home invasion or robbery.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

Police release artist’s sketch of severed head found in McKinley Park lagoon

Chicago police released sketches of a person whose head was found in a bag in the McKinley Park lagoon last week. | Chicago Police

Chicago police released sketches of a person whose head was found in a bag in the McKinley Park lagoon last week. | Chicago Police

Chicago Police on Wednesday released sketches of a person whose severed head was found inside a bag last week in the McKinley Park lagoon in the hope of finding out who it is.

The human remains were found about 10 a.m. Sept. 23 at the park at 2210 W. Pershing, according to Chicago Police.

A Chicago Park District worker found the bag during a routine clean-up, a source said.

The remains of the person found were described as black, between 15 and 25 years old, police said. Investigators are unsure if they were male or female.

Policce have drained the lagoon to look for further body parts.

Anyone with information on the person’s identity is asked to call police at (312) 747-8730.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

WEEK IN REVIEW: At least 19 more murders in Chicago push the year’s homicide total to more than 550

By JEFF MAYES
Chicago Sun-Times Wire

At least 19 people were killed in Chicago violence last week, pushing the year’s homicide total to over the 550 mark, a number that could go up when pending autopsy results are complete.
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One of those undetermined cases involved a severed head and other body parts that were found inside a garbage bag floating in the McKinley Park lagoon on Friday morning. The human remains were found about at the park at 2210 W. Pershing, according to Chicago Police.

A Chicago Park District worker found the bag during a routine clean-up and discovered the man’s head and other body parts inside. Authorities said the victim appeared to be a black male, but he had not been identified as of Wednesday, and autopsy results were pending, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

As of Tuesday, there were 560 homicides in Chicago this year, according to an unofficial count kept by the Chicago Sun-Times Wire. Last year, police reported a total of 468 murders for the entire year.

  • The week’s final homicide was a 54-year-old man from the western suburbs who died Sunday evening after being shot in the head Saturday night near Millennium Park in the Loop. Peter Fabbri of Berwyn was pronounced dead at 5:53 p.m. Sunday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to the medical examiner’s office.

    He had been walking with two people around 7:35 p.m. Saturday along Michigan Avenue when he got into an argument with another man at the northeast corner of Michigan and Monroe, according to police. They started fighting, and the other person pulled a gun and shot him in the head.
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Man sentenced to probation for accidentally shooting Marsalis Homan to death in their North Lawndale apartment

By JORDAN OWEN
Chicago Sun-Times Wire

James Gonnigan | Cook County Sheriff's Dept.

James Gonnigan | Cook County Sheriff’s Dept.


A West Side man who accidentally fatally shot his close friend and roommate, Marsalis Homan, in the head last year in their North Lawndale apartment has been sentenced to probation.

James Gonnigan, 27, pleaded guilty to one felony count of involuntary manslaughter on July 15 before Judge Timothy Joseph Joyce, according to Cook County court records.

On Jan. 4, 2015, Gonnigan and the 20-year-old Homan were playing with a gun in the kitchen of their home in the 1300 block of South Kolin Avenue, authorities said.

Others in the house reported hearing the men talking and laughing before a single shot rang out, authorities said.

After the shooting, Gonnigan ran into a bedroom and told his girlfriend and her acquaintance that he’d shot Holman, authorities said. They found Holman lying in a pool of blood and someone called 911.
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Jose Ernesto Martinez shot to death just blocks from his Gage Park home

Jose Ernesto Martinez was fatally shot Monday night about three blocks away from his home in the Gage Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.

The 30-year-old Martinez was shot in the upper chest and armpit about 6:40 p.m. in the 5100 block of South Washtenaw Avenue, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Martinez, of the 5100 block of South Mozart, was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:11 p.m., authorities said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire