CHICAGO - A Cook County judge denied bail for Devon Swan Saturday, saying that he is charged with a crime that “displayed brutal, heinous, wanton cruelty.”
Swan was charged with murder in connection with a fatal triple shooting on Valentine's Day that killed a two-year-old boy and his 26-year-old uncle.
The crime touched a nerve in a city that is almost numb to violence during a week that saw three young children killed in shootings.
Police superintendent Eddie Johnson pleaded with the public to make the focus of a violent week in Chicago the three young lives lost, not the criminals responsible, as he announced the arrest of 26-year-old Devon Swan, a suspect with a long criminal history.
“Levontay White, Takiya Holmes, and Kanari Gentry-Bowers. Remember these names and burn them into your memory. Let their lives and deaths be a reminder of how we need to come together as a city to reduce gun violence in these neighborhoods,” said Supt. Eddie Johnson, Chicago Police Department.
Swan was charged with first-degree murder for killing of both Lavontay White, and his uncle Lazaric Collins.
Johnson said Swan has a long criminal history and has been arrested nine times on a variety of offenses, including armed robbery, illegal gun charges and narcotics possession. Additionally, Johnson said he's also a documented gang member, and was identified by the department as being at high risk of becoming an offender or victim of gun violence.
"When little kids get shot down, it’s difficult. It’s difficult, and the detectives take it personally because they have little kids, too. Those little kids are just out there being kids and they deserve to do that," Johnson said.
Prosecutors say the two were ambushed as they were riding in an alley on the city’s West Side on Valentine’s Day.
Lazeric Collins suffered five gunshot wounds to his abdomen, back and legs, and Lavontay White suffered one gunshot wound to the back of his head, which exited through his cheek, according to Cook County State's Attorney Bryan Grissman.
Collins' 21-year-old girlfriend, who prosecutors say is three months pregnant, was also wounded in the abdomen. Police say the unborn baby survived.
Part of the attack was streamed on Facebook Live, but area central commander Bandon Deenihan says that’s not what led to the arrest.
City leaders say Swan was finally arrested thanks to good police work and help from the community, something that doesn't happen often in shooting cases. The tip came to Father Michael Pfleger, who went with the tipster to tell police.
"We have to take the initiative to say we’re going to become safer as a community, when we take people who are killers off the street, so your faith has to be greater than your fear,” Fr. Pfleger said.
Deenihan say’s the witnesses who spoke with Pfleger led police to swan.
"We were able to locate this offender, we placed him into custody, and during the interview with the detectives, he made an incriminating statement, which ultimately led to him being charged,” Deenihan said.
Prosecutors say at least four other people may have been involved. The actual shooter, and his motive remain unclear, but police believe it may have been gang-related revenge. What is clear is that a toddler had nothing to do with it.
"Levontay wasn’t someone who made some bad decisions and lost his way, or got involved in a gang conflict, he was just a little boy with his whole life ahead of him," Johnson said.
Police say Devon Swan is only one of the people they’re looking for in this case, and called it an open and active investigation.