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updated: 7/26/2011 8:49 PM

16-year-old arrested after fatal Des Plaines shooting

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A 16-year-old gang member from Des Plaines is in custody after being linked to the shooting death of a rival gang member over the weekend, according to police.

Eliseo Mercado, 26, of Des Plaines was shot in the chest after he and two fellow gang members drove to the townhouse complex at Pine Court and Everett Avenue about 10:15 on Friday night, police said.

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The 16-year-old shooter and two other gang members were in the parking lot when Mercado and two rival gang members arrived.

"It was spur of the moment," said Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini. "A car with three gangbangers in it pulled up, and they just started going back and forth with each other."

As the groups threw gang signs, the 16-year-old pulled out a handgun and shot Mercado in the chest and fired at least one other bullet at a second person, which missed and ended up lodged in a car tire, according to police.

Prandini said the bullet was recovered, but varying reports said two to four shots were fired.

The teen was taken into custody on Saturday and was charged as a juvenile with aggravated discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a gang member, according to police. He was taken to a juvenile detention center in Chicago Tuesday.

"He's been identified as the shooter, but there are other issues that need to be worked out before (Cook County prosecutors) upgrade the charges," Prandini said.

After the shooting, the 16-year-old and his two associates fled the scene in separate directions, but the shooter was located the next day at a friend's house, according to police.

Arlington Heights paramedics transported Mercado to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he was pronounced dead.

The firearm had not been recovered as of late Tuesday.

Prandini said authorities have identified all six people involved in the altercation and are working to issue subpoenas.

He characterized the spot where the death occurred as a high crime area, which has had some recurring gang problems.

Prandini said police have had contact with the victim in the past, but not for violent crimes.

"We have had some bantering back and forth between them, but certainly nothing of the level of violence that took place Friday night," he said.

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