CHICAGO, Ill. -- Authorities charged 18-year-old Angel Gomez with two counts of attempted murder Sunday for his alleged role as the driver in a drive-by shooting that wounded two Chicago police officers.
The shooting was an act of violence carried out with what Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called a "weapon of war, " a high-powered military assault rifle that he says poses a risk to the entire city.
"If these individuals – these maniacs – would shoot at the police like that, do you think they really care about shooting at an average citizen in the city?” Johnson said during a Sunday press conference.
Johnson is enraged over the escalation of violence in the city and this latest example of a dangerous street gang using a military-style assault rifle to shoot at officers.
"Don’t focus on the fact that these guys shot at a van that contained some police officers," Johnson said, addressing the media. "The last time I checked it was illegal to shoot at anybody in this city.”
Photos released by CPD show the unmark van riddled with bullet holes:
Gomez was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm after gang members helped police find him.
"Everybody in the gang at that point knew that these gang members did not shoot rival gang members, they shot officers, at that point these individuals cooperated with us and we were able to identify the driver and the shooter," CPD Commander Brendan Deenihan said.
Gomez was allegedly behind the wheel of a minivan that plainclothes officers were following in an unmarked police van on Tuesday night in the city’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Gomez and the others in the minivan were allegedly involved in a separate shooting earlier that night. The suspected shooter has not been caught.
“We have additional suspects we are seeking, and we know who they are," Johnson said.
Police say the shooter likely believed he was firing at a rival gang – and didn’t know he was shooting at cops.
"When they shoot at each other they think it’s a game, but they know how serious it is. We have two officers who almost died,” Deenihan said.
Those officers were released from Stroger Hospital on Wednesday. One was hit in the arm and hip, and the other in the back.
"Those two young men, all they want to do is come back and continue to serve their communities and the city of Chicago," Johnson said.
Police located the minivan on Tuesday night after the shooting, near 37th St. and Racine Ave. in Bridgeport. The rifle was recovered in a nearby wooded area with the help of a K-9 unit.
Community activist Andrew Holmes called on the suspect’s family to help police.
"I’m asking his parents, if you know the whereabouts of his friends that may have been with him in this car, turn them in because this ‘aint going nowhere," Holmes said.
The superintendent had a stern message for the others involved.
"You have to spend these next few days consistently and constantly looking over your shoulder because know this: we are coming to bring you to justice and you will answer for your actions," Johnson said.
Gomez is expected to appear before a Cook County judge for an initial bond hearing Monday.