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Bail Denied For Alton Spann, Man Charged With Murder Of University Of Chicago Graduate Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A judge Saturday denied bail for the man accused of murdering Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng, a recent University of Chicago Graduate.

Alton Spann is charged with first degree murder, robbery and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in 24-year-old Zheng's death.

Zheng, who received a masters degree in statistics from the U of C - was shot during a robbery at 54th Place and Ellis Avenue on Tuesday afternoon just before 2 p.m.

Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng
Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng (Credit: University of Chicago)

CBS 2's Asal Rezaei has learned that although the suspect is only 18 years old, he has already had many run-ins with the law. In court prosecutors hilighted Spann's long juvenile history, asking that he remain in custody with no bail. Prosecutors detailed his lengthy juvenile background, including 2019 charges of robbery and violation of probation.

Alton Spann
Alton Spann (Credit: Chicago Police)

At the time of his arrest Tuesday, Spann was on parole for aggravated vehicular hijacking and armed robbery. He had the keys of the Mustang and two weapons, one of which matched the one used to kill the U of C student.

Prosecutors say on Tuesday afternoon Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng was walking near campus when Spann and another suspect pulled up in a stolen black Mustang. They say Spann shot Zheng in the chest, stole his belongings and got away.

With the help of surveillance footage and license plate readers, Chicago Police arrested Spann just 24 hours later, after they say he tried to sell Zheng's laptop and cell phone.

Since the arrest, a group of faculty at the University of Chicago issued an open letter calling it a "call for action to enhance the safety and security of our community." It says they are "all shocked, saddened and frightened by the ruthless murder of our recent graduate." The letter also hilights at least two other student shooting deaths and says they are hearing of "gun robberies on a weekly basis." They go on to urge the university to take action in addressing violence on campus, listing suggestions like "increasing the number of live security guards off campus" and "increasing routes and frequencies of university shuttles."

A protest is planned for Tuesday at noon.

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