COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — An Englewood man has been charged in the Brighton Park shootout that killed three men and left two wounded Feb. 15.
Torrence Reese, 18, was denied bail Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery.
According to prosecutors, Reese and 19-year-old Julian Miller went to an apartment in the 3900 block of South Albany Avenue about 2:45 p.m. Feb. 15 hoping to buy two ounces of marijuana for $400.
At the apartment lived brothers Emmanuel Camacho, 18, and Filogonio Rivera, 20, who were known to have guns and occasionally sell marijuana, Assistant State's Attorney Holly Grosshans said during a bond hearing Tuesday.
Reese had reached out to a witness — a friend from high school — who arranged a deal for Reese, Miller, Camacho and Rivera, prosecutors said.
On Feb 15, Reese, Miller and the witness began smoking marijuana inside a bedroom at Camacho and Rivera's apartment as the brothers played video games, Grosshans said. The group reportedly discussed the purchase of marijuana.
At some point, the witness felt nauseous and left the bedroom to get a glass of water, prosecutors said.
That's when multiple shots rang out from inside the bedroom.
As the witness tried to flee the apartment, prosecutors said, Reese ran out of the bedroom with a gun and fired multiple shots toward the witness, who was struck in his hip and left leg.
According to Grosshans, the witness was able to hide in the building's basement, where he heard additional shots and a "physical scuffle" coming from Camacho and Rivera's apartment.
UPDATE: 5 people shot, 3 dead, 2 in critical in Brighton Park home pic.twitter.com/tnmmYwTNzV— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 15, 2017
Reese soon fled the building, got into his car and circled the block — apparently waiting for Miller to run outside and get in the car, prosecutors said.
When that didn't happen, Reese drove himself to a nearby Dunkin' Donuts, handed his car keys to an employee and said his sister would be back for the vehicle, Grosshans said. The employee called 911; Reese had been shot in his buttocks and right arm. In court Tuesday, Reese said he spent nine days in a hospital following the shooting.
Neighbors soon found Miller laying dead on a porch next to a bag of marijuana, prosecutors said. Camacho and Rivera were discovered dead inside their apartment, where each man had been shot multiple times.
According to Grosshans, police recovered a bloody 9mm handgun and a bag of marijuana inside Reese's car.
Officers on the scene found five 9mm shell casings and one live round, authorities said. The surviving witness, who'd been taken to a hospital in critical condition for his gunshot wounds, later identified Reese as the shooter.
Reese, of the 900 block of West 68th Street, has no criminal history as an adult, prosecutors said.
Defense attorney Mitchell Kreiter in court Tuesday described the shooting as mutual combat — telling Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas that officers found another gun on the scene.
Miller and Reese were close friends, Kreiter said. Miller's mother was among 15 people who wrote letters to Judge Chiampas praising Reese's character and asking for a lenient bond.
Kreiter also argued for a low bond, and began to suggest police officers charged with murder receive more lenient bonds than civilians.
"I don't want to be a smart aleck," Kreiter said, "but people come in here in uniforms —"
The judge cut him off.
"I am offended by that comment because in this courtroom, in front of me, that's irrelevant," Chiampas said. "Everybody in my courtroom is treated equally."
After taking a brief recess to read the 15 letters, Chiampas told Reese he was "one lucky man" for having so many friends and relatives write "very heartfelt letters" on his behalf.
Chiampas denied Reese bail, noting, "There are three people that died, and one of them is your friend."