Detective Phil Cline says police are asking prosecutors to charge seven gang members with first-degree murder in the killings of 49-year-old Anthony Stuckey and 62-year-old Jack Moore. The two were beaten to death by a mob after their van jumped a curb and struck pedestrians.
Cline says witness accounts and fingerprints linked the men, who range in age from 16 to 57. Police will not release their names until they are formally charged, and may seek charges against more.
Cline says all seven suspects have criminal histories, and four of them have been arrested ten or more times each. Two were brothers who were uncles to one of three women injured when the van crashed into a porch.
A spokesman for the state's attorney's office said he didn't know when or if charges would be filed.
Cline said the investigation was continuing.
"We're very satisfied that we have a strong case here," he said. "That's why we're asking the state's attorney's office for charges."
Police Superintendent Terry Hillard praised community members who assisted in the investigation.
"Numerous and courageous individuals from that neighborhood have shown they have the strength and character to do what's right," he said
Najee Ali, a civil rights activist who helped organize a citizens' door-to-door canvass for witnesses that began on Thursday, said: "They're still in a state of shock. It's up to the community leaders to provide guidance, to say it's OK to help law enforcement. It's time to break the code of silence."
Ali is hoping that witnesses who are reluctant to talk to police might be willing to talk to the citizen canvassers.
At least 100 people watched Tuesday night as Anthony Stuckey, 49, and Jack Moore, 62, were pulled from a van and kicked, punched and beaten to death with bricks and stones after the van jumped a curb and struck three people on a porch.
All three on the porch were seriously injured and are still in the hospital.
Mayor Daley, pointing out that mob violence cannot be tolerated, says witnesses who are remaining silent should realize that the victims could just as easily could have been their own family members.
"This is a simple, senseless, double homicide, committed by a bunch of cowardly thugs, and these murderers will be brought to justice," said Police Superintendent Terry Hillard.
Police have not determined what caused the van to veer off the street, but the crash is believed to have been an accident.
The Cook County Medical Examiner says Moore, who was driving the van, had a blood alcohol level between 0.08 and 0.09, just above the legal limit of 0.08. Stuckey had a level of 0.06.
Those who live near the street corner where a mob yanked two men from their van and fatally beat them following a traffic accident say the area was the scene of frequent skirmishes.
"This corner was a powder keg," said the Rev. Bamani Obadele, who lives nearby. "Every night you can come out here and there's 20 to 30 young people sitting out here. Every other night people are fighting."
Police are still were trying to piece together who was involved in the beating, and residents of the South Side neighborhood where the accident occurred said they may have a tough time convincing witnesses to contact them.
"There's going to be very few people that come forward and say anything," said 63-year-old Anita Williams, who lives in a high-rise near the scene of the beating.
Julia Mitchell, 29, who lives across the street from Williams, rushed to the scene after hearing sirens. She saw Stuckey, Moore and three injured women on the ground.
"I think everybody's pretty repulsed. It was just a horrible display of abuse," Mitchell said. "Nobody's trying to condone what happened."
Police say several people have been questioned, but no one has been charged.
The accident occurred in the close-knit Oakland neighborhood, once among Chicago's poorest. While parts of the area are still blighted, new townhouses have sprouted up and public housing is coming down.
Zakiyyah S. Muhammad, who lives in the neighborhood, said people there are wary of police and may hesitate to turn in friends or relatives.
"It's going to be a hard thing for these parents to come forward and turn in their sons and grandsons, if they were involved," Muhammad said.
Activists put fliers on cars that declared: "We need your help!! We need witnesses to contact police (confidentially) to help catch the murderers of Anthony Stuckey and Jack Moore."
Autopsies show that Stuckey and Moore died from multiple injuries and blunt trauma.
The three people who were struck by the van remain hospitalized. Shani Lawrence, 26, is in critical condition in intensive care at Mount Sinai Hospital, spokeswoman Barbara Atwood said. Jenny Lawrence, 18, is in fair condition with a facial injury at Mount Sinai.
The third pedestrian who was hit - a 17-year-old girl - is listed in fair condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.