CALUMET CITY | Seven gang members have confessed to killing a 16-year-old Calumet City girl in a retaliatory shooting early Saturday morning, police said Tuesday.
All seven reputed Latin Kings are charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder in the killing of Melody J. Elias, said Calumet City police Chief Russell Larson. The men all implicated themselves in videotaped statements, Larson said. The arrests represent a strike against the local Latin Kings organization, Larson said.
"They are trying to be active out here," Larson said.
"We aren't going to allow that."
According to Larson:
Elias was sitting in a vehicle with boyfriend Daniel J. Witting, 19, just before 1:30 a.m. in front of Elias' mother's house in the 700 block of Newell Avenue. "Several carloads" of Latin Kings drove up and boxed in the vehicle.
The Latin Kings yelled gang slurs and kicked the vehicle and tried to pull Witting and Elias from the vehicle. Elias and Witting tried to drive off, and one of the gang members pulled a semiautomatic pistol with an extended clip and shot about 10 times into the car. Witting was shot in both hands. He drove Elias to St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers in Hammond, where she was pronounced dead.
The Latin Kings shot the pair in retaliation against a rival gang, the Latin Dragons, Larson said. The shooting was not over money or drugs, but over rivalry or perceived disrespect, investigators said. Witting may have been peripherally involved with gangs at some point, investigators said.
Charged with murder and attempted murder are: Miguelangel Garcia, 23, Harvey; Lewis Crenshaw, 18, Calumet City; Llewellyn Peed, 19, Hammond; Albert Redmond, 18, of Dolton; Kevin Kerby, 21, Calumet City; Malaquies Guttierez, 17, of Calumet City; Oscar Chaves, 20, Calumet City.
The men face a hearing today, Larson said.
Larson would not say who fired the gun. An eighth suspect remained at large Tuesday, Larson said, but one of the seven Latin Kings arrested was the gunman, he said. Some of the seven are gang leaders, some carry lower rank, Larson said.
Larson credited work by Calumet City police and investigators from the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force.
Elias was a student at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City.
Another TF North student, Samuel Rogers, was gunned down Nov. 17 in the 1600 block of Shirley Drive in Calumet City. Investigation continues in that shooting, which was not linked to Elias' killing, Larson said.