Courts
Jonathan Miano, The Times

A Chicago man accused of shooting a Hammond man while driving in the area in search of a New Year's Day party has pleaded guilty. 

Eriec L. Campbell's plea agreement, filed Tuesday in Lake Criminal Court, is now under a judge's advisement, court records show.

Campbell was initially charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and attempted armed robbery, but prosecutors agreed to drop those charges upon Campbell pleading guilty to a new charge of aggravated battery, court records show. 

The level 3 felony carries a possible sentence of three to 16 years in prison, court records show. 

Alexander M. Jones, 36, of Chicago, was sentenced to five years in prison on one count of criminal recklessness for his involvement in the shooting. 

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Hammond police were dispatched to the area of 173rd Street and Walnut Avenue for reports of two vehicles aggressively racing, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police learned at the scene a 28-year-old man — one of the vehicle operators — suffered a gunshot wound, the affidavit states.

The gunshot victim told police he had parked his car at his residence in the 7200 block of Northcote when a man approached his driver's side window and asked, “Where the party at?”

When the victim replied he didn't know, the man then pointed a black handgun at him and demanded his belongings, the affidavit states. The victim said he fled in his vehicle, but he was shot in his chest during the escape, according to the affidavit.

He told police a light-color SUV briefly chased him through the neighborhood before he was able to stop at a fire station on 173rd Street to request medical attention, the affidavit states.

A light-color SUV initially was stopped about a mile from the scene of the incident, the affidavit states, but police were unaware at that time it was connected to the shooting, so the driver, later identified as Campbell, was let go with a warning. 

Officers were able to stop the vehicle again near Calumet Avenue and Morris Street and its occupants — Campbell, Jones and a 25-year-old man — were taken into custody, the affidavit states.

Campbell, the driver of the vehicle, admitted to police he fired a gun twice at the man because he said he felt disrespected by the victim, according to the affidavit.

Jones declined to answer questions about his role in the shooting, but said his fingerprints would be found on the firearms because he shot them previously in celebration of the New Year. 

The 25-year-old man told police he was heavily intoxicated and unconscious during portions of the night, the affidavit states. He was not charged in the incident.

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Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.