Police searching for 45 stolen guns
Lake County authorities say they have recovered only 10 of the 55 guns stolen from a Beach Park gun shop by gang members who have told investigators they were to be used in a plot to retaliate against Zion police for the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white officer.
Undersheriff Raymond Rose said police are working with members of the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to recover the missing weapons that officials say were stolen from a Beach Park gun store by Lawrence Taylor and Clarence Williams Jr., both 18, and a 17-year-old.
Assistant State's Attorney Reginald Mathews, chief of the office's gang and drug unit, said officials are investigating the statements Taylor and Williams made after their arrest Monday regarding the weapons and plot to retaliate for the April 4 shooting of Justus Howell, 17, of Zion.
"We have not determined the validity of the statements they made," he said Wednesday.
Prosecutors are also determining whether to file felony criminal charges in adult court against the juvenile who was part of the plot, Mathews said. The minor now faces charges in juvenile court.
Mathews said there are certain crimes where moving a juvenile to adult court is mandatory, but others are up to the discretion of prosecutors.
"These are all things we are still investigating," he said.
Howell was shot and killed by veteran officer Eric Hill during a foot chase in Zion after Howell ran off with a stolen gun during a botched street sale. Authorities said Howell was running with the handgun when he turned back to the officers chasing him and looked to be pointing the gun.
State's Attorney Mike Nerheim ruled the shooting was justified after an investigation determined Hill shot Howell because he feared for his life. That decision led to small protests in front of the Lake County Government Center in Waukegan over three days.
About 11 p.m. on May 31, Taylor, Williams and the juvenile went to 5 Star Firearms on the 41000 block of Sheridan Road to steal the weapons, Mathews said. While Taylor was a lookout, Williams entered the shop and took rifles, shotguns and handguns from the display cases and off the walls, Mathews said. Williams left the store and the three drove to Taylor's house in Zion, Matthews said.
About five hours later, they returned to the gun store and more weapons were taken, Mathews said. Each time someone entered the store, they were caught on video surveillance, he added.
Police searched Taylor's residence and vehicle and said they found 10 stolen guns that were traced back to the gun shop.
Taylor identified Williams and the juvenile as conspirators, Mathews said.
Taylor has been charged with theft and burglary, according to a news release issued by the sheriff's office Wednesday. He also faces charges in Waukegan, the release said.
Williams has been charged with burglary and theft, the sheriff's office said. The case remains under investigation.
Taylor is being held in Lake County jail on $750,000 bail, while Williams is being held on $500,000 bail.
The street value of the guns taken was about $30,000.