Police shot and killed a 13-year-old boy after what officials described as an “armed confrontation” in Little Village early Monday, although no video and few details have been released so far.
Adam Toledo, 13, who lived in the neighborhood, was shot in his chest and later died, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
In a statement, police said officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert about 2:35 a.m. and saw two males standing in an alley in the Southwest Side neighborhood.
One person, who was allegedly armed, ran from the scene and was shot by a police officer during an “armed confrontation,” police said. The incident took place in an alley west of the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue, near Farragut Career Academy High School.
That person, later identified as Adam, died at the scene, police said. Authorities took four days to release Adam’s name as they waited to notify next-of-kin, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said.
Police shared a photo of a gun allegedly recovered at the scene.
The other person who ran from police, 21-year-old Ruben Roman Jr. of Edgewater, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, police said. In 2019, Roman pleaded guilty to illegal gun possession stemming from an arrest in Evanston and was sentenced to probation, court records show.
In a statement issued Thursday, Police Supt. David Brown called the shooting a tragedy and extended condolences to Adam’s family.
“My greatest fear as the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department has been a deadly encounter between one of our own and a juvenile especially given the recent rise in violent crimes involving juveniles throughout our city,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, this fear became a reality earlier this week.”
Brown said “the split-second decision to use deadly force is extremely difficult for any officer, and is always a heavy burden to bear for officers involved in fatal shooting incidents. We fully support the investigation being conducted by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and adamantly call for the release of any and all video, including body-worn camera footage, related to the incident, as permitted by laws pertaining to juveniles.”
On Thursday, on the residential block in front of the alley where the shooting took place earlier in the week, residents gathered for a yard sale and formed a line along 24th Street where a local church was holding a food drive.
A surveillance video taken from a camera at Amor de Dios United Methodist Church, which is at the corner of 24th and Sawyer, caught flashes of light from the shooting and additional police officers as they arrived on the scene. However, neither the officer who fired the shots nor Adam could be seen in the video.
Pastor Ramiro Rodriguez, who lives in the 2300 block of South Sawyer, said his son heard the gunshots early Monday morning but neither witnessed the incident.
“I feel for the kids around here,” Rodriguez said in Spanish. ” … What happened here is not what we want, we want the best for our families and for our youth.”
Rodriguez said he does not know Adam or his family, but said he turned over security footage from his church to detectives who came to visit.
Many at the food drive expressed shock to hear that the person gunned down by police behind their homes was a 13-year-old boy.
Nakia Smith, a mother of a 13-year-old boy herself, said she heard gunshots on early that morning, followed moments later by a swarm of blue lights.
“It’s very disheartening, especially with what happened a year ago, with the [Derek] Chauvin trial and everything,” Smith said, referring to the Minneapolis officer who is currently on trial in the murder of George Floyd. “And then Monday morning, come to find out it was a 13-year-old boy killed … it’s just quite a bit.”
She added: “I do understand that the police don’t always know what someone is going to do, but there has to be a better way.”
Meanwhile, Rafael Hurtado Jr., 30 — who lives a few houses down from where Adam lived about a mile and a half away — urged CPD to release any footage related to the shooting.
“It’s hard to take CPDs word for it” that he was armed, he said. “Especially with everything that’s been going on with the police shootings in other places.”
He said that “it’s tragic for everyone involved, for the family, for the kid because he was so young and for the officer who pulled the trigger.”
Anthony Gonzalez, an organizer with the community group Mi Villita Neighbors, said he was personally “shocked because it is like when does the violence from police end?”
He was skeptical of the police version of events.
“I don’t think we know the full story but we can’t take the police’s word for it. The bodycam needs to be released and I know there are some kind of loopholes that stop it from happening because of the boy’s age, but if the family wants it out in the public nothing should stop it from happening.”
Local Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said he has many unanswered questions about the shooting, but said “COPA has told me that the gun was found near his body.”
Cardenas urged Little Village residents to keep their cool and “wait for the facts to play out.”
“We’re trying to keep the peace and keep everybody as informed as possible so that people don’t jump to conclusions until all the facts are born out,” he said. “I urge the community to be patient for COPA to do its work. We have challenges in Little Village. The community has reported many shootings in that area. Shots fired constantly night after night. I pray for our young people in harm’s way. There are so many incidents we battle on a daily basis.”
Officer on desk duty; no video released
The officer in Monday’s incident was placed on desk duty for 30 days while the Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigates the shooting, police said.
The shooting was captured by body-worn camera, but it wasn’t immediately clear if investigators would release it, COPA said in a statement Thursday.
COPA is required to release body camera video of police shootings within 60 days of the incident, but policy prohibits them from sharing video if the victim is under 18 years old. Absent a court order, the video would not be released, COPA said.
However, investigators will release other evidence including 911 calls, police reports and radio transmissions within 60 days, COPA said.
Two other people have been shot by Chicago police officers this week. Early Wednesday, an officer fatally shot an armed man in Portage Park after officers chased the man on foot. An officer fired shots after the man allegedly pulled out a gun in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street, police said.
Less than an hour later, an off-duty Chicago police officer shot someone breaking into their home in Albany Park on the Northwest Side. The officer shot the man in his face about 12:55 a.m. as the man broke into the officer’s home in the 3100 block of Belle Plaine Avenue, police said. The man was rushed in serious condition to Illinois Masonic Medical Center.
Contributing: Cindy Hernandez, Frank Main