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Teenage suspect denied bond in deadly shooting outside Benito Juarez High School

Bond denied for teen charged with shooting four teens outside Juarez High School, killing two
Bond denied for teen charged with shooting four teens outside Juarez High School, killing two 02:30

CHICAGO (CBS) – A 16-year-old boy was denied bond Saturday in a shooting in December near Benito Juarez Community Academy in which two teenagers were killed and two others were wounded.

Christian Acevedo is charged with an adult with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

He is also charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm on school grounds, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, four counts of unlawful use of a weapon, and criminal trespassing. He will face these charges in Juvenile Court, according to Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said the teen was arrested on Thursday.

The shooting took place during the afternoon of Dec. 16, 2022, outside of the school at 2150 S. Laflin St. at Cermak Road when students were being dismissed.

Brandon Perez, 15, and Nathan Billegas, 14, were both killed while two other teens, a boy and a girl, both 14, were wounded.

16-year-old boy charged with murder in Juarez High School shooting 02:31

"It's senseless," Brown said Friday. "There's no good reason."

In Central Bond Court on Saturday, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Darman said Acevedo is a former student at Juarez who is known to be affiliated with a gang. He attended Juarez during the 2020-2021 school year, but was expelled for disciplinary, academic, and attendance issues, Darman said.

At 2:35 p.m. Dec. 16, Perez, Billegas, and the 14-year-old boy who survived were under a bridge that connects the old and new Juarez buildings – hanging out near an area colloquially called "the Rock," Darman said. Another group of about seven young people was standing nearby, and a someone from the group containing the victims went up to greet them, Darman said.

Upon approaching, a witness heard someone make reference to a gang with which one of the victims was affiliated, Darman said. The witness then went back to the group that contained the victims to warn them that Acevedo was around to cause trouble – and to advise them to leave, Darman said.

Acevedo walked up to one the victims and asked one of them if he was in a specific gang, Darman said. The victim asked Acevedo why he wanted to know, Darman said.

Acevedo walked a few steps away, but then turned around and shot that victim, Perez, in the head, Darman said. He continued to shoot – striking Billegas in the head and the other 14-year-old boy in the body, Darman said. The 14-year-old girl was a bystander and was also struck in the body, Darman said.

Meanwhile, a witness heard the gunshots ring out and took a picture with his phone of Acevedo with the gun in his hand, Darman said. The school was placed on lockdown as staff tried to get the students safely back into the school – and during the process, a school administrator saw the boy who survived lying on the ground with a gunshot, Darman said.

First responders rushed to the scene and found Perez and Billegas had both suffered gunshots to the face, back of head, shoulder, and back – and had both died, Darman said. The surviving boy was shot in his left shoulder and leg, and the girl was hit in the thigh by a stray bullet, Darman said. The surviving victims have since been released from the hospital.

Days after a deadly shooting near Benito Juarez High School on Dec. 16, 2022, students huddled around a makeshift memorial for Brandon Perez and Nathan Billegas, the two teens killed in that shooting.  Provided to CBS

Police found eight .357-caliber shell casings stamped Winchester 357 sig – and found they had all come from the same gun, prosecutors said.

Private surveillance video showed Acevedo hanging around Juarez Community Academy both before and after the murder, Darman said. He was shown walking east on 21st Street alone at 2:22 p.m. and arriving on school grounds shortly afterward, Darman said.

Acevedo was also seen on and near the school soccer field minutes later, talking to various people, prosecutors said. While school surveillance video does not show the shooting itself, it does capture students running away from the scene toward Cermak Road, prosecutors said. Meanwhile, Acevedo is seen running off in the opposite direction toward Cullerton Street, prosecutors said.

Less than a day after the shooting, Chicago police released images of the suspected shooter at the school wearing a black mask and jacket.

Meantime, two witnesses from the scene identified Acevedo as the shooter in separate photo arrays, prosecutors said.

A Chicago Police officer also identified Acevedo from prior encounters, prosecutors said.

Brown said police were able to surveil the suspect this week in the lead up to his arrest by members of the Area Three Homicide Investigation Team in the 1800 block of West 17th Street. Police said the suspect was in possession of a previously reported stolen vehicle.

Bail denied for teen suspect in Benito Juarez High School shooting 01:39

Prosecutors offered more specifics Saturday about the arrest.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, officers set up surveillance on Acevedo's home. They saw him leave around 12:15 p.m., and at which point he got into a waiting Hyundai with a broken window and left, prosecutors said. Police followed the car, but lost track of it – though a vehicle matching the description was involved in the shooting of another vehicle in the 1300 block of West Cullerton Street, prosecutors said.

The vehicle then returned to Acevedo's home around 3 p.m. Acevedo got out through the rear driver's side of the car with a rifle in hand – and officers briefly lost sight of him, prosecutors said. The boy then fled into his home, while officers converged on the Hyundai and arrested the three people inside, prosecutors said. A total of 14 shell casings were found in the Hyundai, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, a perimeter was set up around Acevedo's house and he surrendered to police at 3:38 p.m. Thursday, prosecutors said. Police also executed a search warrant – finding four guns in his bedroom. They included a 9mm Glock, a 10mm Glock, and a .40-caliber Glock in a backpack at the foot of his bed, and a 9mm Glock wrapped in a sweat shirt on the bed, prosecutors said. All four guns had extended magazines – and three had switches to make them fully automatic, prosecutors said.

"We lost two teenagers, and our suspect is also teenager," Foxx said. "There are three children who are lost in this."

Of the two teens killed, Foxx said Brandon was a Juarez student whose family said he wanted to go into construction and own his own business.

Nathan went to Chicago Bulls College Prep on the Near West Side. He was at Juarez to pick up his sister who attended the school.

His family told us he had the biggest heart.

The teenage girl who was hit by the stray bullet also went to Juarez, while the boy who survived went to UIC College Prep, prosecutors said.

"It's a tragedy of the highest order," Darman said. "I am not going to comment any further."

After the shooting, students and staff called for an end to gun violence and marched on campus. Students held signs in honor of their two classmates.  

On Friday afternoon, CBS 2's Marissa Perlman spoke off camera with the mother of one of the victims. She said she is still taking the loss of her son "One day at a time," but she said she wants the teenage suspect to "pay" for what he did.

The State's Attorney said it was tips from the community that helped them make an arrest.

"We cannot be everywhere, but community members are – you are eyes and ears," Foxx said.

When asked how the district is taking action against gun and gang violence in schools, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Pedro Martinez pointed to a "community approach," and intervention techniques not just at Juarez, but other schools they identify as high-risk.

"Bringing this closure is very important toward restoring the calm and safety that all of our school communities need and deserve," said Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez.

Chicago police announce arrest in deadly shooting outside Benito Juarez High School 10:39
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