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June 25, 2007
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Police cameras helped in arrest of Chicago gang members


By Andrew L. Wang, 
The Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO In the end, the suspects wanted in the drive-by shooting of a teenage boy in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood two weeks ago couldn't escape the long lens of the law, police said.

On Sunday, police announced charges against two alleged gang members accused of killing Roberto Duran, 14, noting that it was the first time video footage from one of the department's pole-mounted street cameras, usually used to catch small-time drug dealers, has helped solve a homicide case.

Duran was walking with friends in the 4200 block of West 25th Street about 8:40 p.m. June 11 when a man got out of a car that had just stopped nearby and opened fire on the group. Duran was hit once in the abdomen and later died at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

At a news conference Sunday afternoon, police told of the sequence of events leading to the arrest of the two suspects, which involved a witness chasing down the assailants, striking their car with his own and causing them to crash into a parked vehicle.

The men left the car after the crash, but their flight was captured by a police camera at that corner, said police Cmdr. Steve Peterson. Detectives used the images to identify the men and arrest them.

Jorge Morones, 19, of 13500 block of South Spaulding Avenue in Robbins, was charged Saturday with one count of murder. Orlando Rojas, 20, of the 700 block of Cromwell Avenue in Westchester, was charged with one count of murder Sunday.

Police said the motive was retaliation for the slaying of a fellow gang member earlier that day, although detectives found no evidence linking that shooting to Duran.

The shooting made Duran the 32nd Chicago Public Schools student killed this school year.

Peterson said that a Chevrolet Celebrity pulled up near Duran's group. Morones was behind the wheel, and Rojas got out of the Chevy and opened fire, police said.

The gunman got back in the car and the suspects sped off, but their car was filmed by a Chicago Public Schools camera mounted across the street. That camera did not record the shooting, but it did capture the suspects leaving the scene, Peterson said.

Immediately after the shooting, a witness, whom police declined to identify, gave chase in his own car.

"He got behind the vehicle and on a couple of occasions struck the rear of the vehicle to try to make them stop," Peterson said. "Finally, at the intersection of Cermak [Road] and Keeler [Avenue], he was able to strike the car one more time and cause an accident."

The two assailants ran from the car. Peterson said a police camera at the intersection didn't record the crash but did capture images of a pedestrian's reaction to it and of two men fleeing the scene on foot.

Morones was arrested Thursday, and Rojas was arrested a day later. Witnesses identified the men in lineups, police said. Investigators have not found the gun used in the shooting, which they think is a revolver.

Morones, Rojas and Sergio Barba, 19, of Chicago were members of the same street gang, police said. After Barba was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting at 4:15 a.m. in the Archer Heights neighborhood, the two went seeking revenge and mistakenly targeted Duran and his friends.

Detectives do not think anyone in the group had any connection to Barba's slaying.

Copyright 2007 Chicago Tribune Company

Full story: Police cameras helped in arrest of Chicago gang members






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