By SAM CHARLES
As Judge Peggy Chiampas reminded the court how young 2-year-old Lavontay White Jr. was when he was fatally shot earlier this week, along with his uncle Lazarec Collins, a Chicago Police officer seated in the press area of Cook County bond court scoffed and shook his head.
Chiampas ordered Devon Swan, 26, to be held without bond Saturday afternoon, after he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder for the Valentine’s Day shooting deaths of Lavontay and his 26-year-old uncle in the 2300 block of South Kenneth. Collins’ 21-year-old girlfriend, who is 4 months pregnant, was injured in the attack.
The judge added that, under state law, the shooting qualifies “as brutal, heinous, wanton cruelty.”
Prosecutors told the judge the shooting was retribution for the shooting death of one of Swan’s friends, a killing he believed Collins was responsible for.
The three were in a car, with Collins’ girlfriend driving, shortly before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday when the shooting occurred.
As they were driving, a blue Chevrolet Spark, occupied by Swan and three others, pulled up alongside and two people inside opened fire, prosecutors said. The car is owned by Swan’s girlfriend, who loaned it to him after he dropped her off at work an hour earlier, prosecutors said.
Collins was shot five times in the abdomen, back and legs; Lavontay was shot once in the back of the head, prosecutors said. The bullet eventually exited through his cheek. Both were pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital.
Collins’ girlfriend was streaming live to Facebook at the time of the shooting and was shot once in the abdomen, authorities said. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital.
Before Swan’s hearing in bond court Saturday, police officials said more suspects are being sought and the investigation continues.
“This is a very active, very active, ongoing investigation,” Area Central Detectives Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan said. “We’re looking for more people who are responsible for this.”
Prosecutors said Swan had told several people about his involvement in the shooting, and also gave a videotaped statement to police.
His arrest was due in no small part to Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina, who helped connect witnesses with investigators, police said.
“We all know that there’s work to be done yet to rebuild trust between police and community, but our fractured relationship cannot keep us from talking to each other, helping each other and working with each other to take killers off the street,” Pfleger said.
Swan was on parole at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
Since 2008, he has been convicted of several crimes, including unlawful use of a weapon, armed robbery and drug possession, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records. Most recently, he was released on parole in April 2016 after serving time for drug possession and violating electronic monitoring.
Addressing reporters, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson again called on state lawmakers to pass legislation that would stiffen sentencing for repeat gun offenders.
“The fact of the matter is these repeat gun offenders have to get the message that we won’t stand for it,” Johnson said. “Our elected officials, our state legislators have to get the message we won’t stand for it.”
While a lack of economic opportunity has long been tied to violent crime, Johnson said that personal accountability plays an even bigger role.
“I recognize that in a lot of these impoverished areas, we have to do a better job of having economic support poured into them. We do. We owe that to them,” Johnson said.
“The long-term solution is the economic support, but right now here today, when I go into this mother’s home, she’s not saying, ‘Superintendent, get this guy a job.’ She’s saying, ‘Superintendent, stop this killing in my neighborhood,’ so that’s what we’re going to do.”