The Chicago Police Department received help from an unlikely source in tracking down and apprehending Angel Gomez in connection to last week’s shooting of two on-duty officers. Members of a Chicago street gang teamed with authorities to help lead them to Gomez, 18.
Several members of the La Raza street gang provided information that helped police to identify a driver and a shooter who they said pulled up alongside two plainclothes officers last Tuesday and opened fire with a military-style rifle, hitting one officer in the arm and hip and the other in the back, according to the department.
Police arrested and charged Angel Gomez, 18, the suspected driver, with two counts of attempted murder, according to department officials.
Police said that the two male officers, who were driving a covert Chicago PD van in the city’s south side when they were attacked, were mistaken for rival gang members. No current evidence suggests that the suspects knew the victims were police officers.
“Everybody in the gang knew at that point that these gang members did not shoot rival gang members, they shot officers,” Chicago Police Commander Brendan Deenihan said referring to the La Raza members at a press conference on Sunday. “At that point, these individuals cooperated with us and we were able to identify the driver and the shooter.”
Gomez, who was out on a previous gun charge from January, confessed and was charged as an adult, Deenihan said.
Police are still searching for the suspected shooter, who was also identified by the street gang.
“We are still looking for the shooter at this time,” Deenihan said. “It’s a very active and ongoing investigation.
Deenihan did say that a police dog located the attack weapon, which was buried in a wooded area.
“The dog followed the scent and actually found this rifle buried,” Deenihan said. “This rifle was obviously buried and hidden because these guys wanted to come back and get it.”
A Chicago Police Department spokesperson posted images on Twitter of the suspected vehicle, a black mini van, with several bullet holes in it. The department revealed that the officers were wearing protective vests at the time of the attack and were able to return fire at the vehicle.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson acknowledged the city’s concerning gun violence on Sunday.
“We just have to absolutely do something about this gun violence,” Johnson said while speaking at Sunday’s press conference. “If these individuals, these maniacs, will shoot at the police officers like that, do you think that they really care about shooting at an average citizen in the city? The answer is no.”
Chicago saw more than 700 homicides in 2016, more than any other major U.S. city. In an effort to combat the rising violence, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has hired around 1,000 new employees in the police department.
In 2015, Chicago logged around 470 homicides.