Villa Park teen gets 5 years in prison for shooting Addison men

 
 
Updated 4/12/2018 5:52 PM
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  • Bruce Berrier

    Bruce Berrier

A Villa Park teen who prosecutors said viewed himself as the "king enforcer of his block" is going to prison.

Judge Brian Telander sentenced Bruce Berrier, now 19, to five years in prison on Thursday for firing multiple shots that wounded two men on Nov. 24, 2015.

Berrier actually was standing trial last fall, charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, when prosecutors agreed to let him plead guilty to one count of unauthorized discharge of a weapon.

The victims testified during the trial that they did not know Berrien and were at the townhouse complex to "have drinks and chill."

Once the victims arrived, however, they were told there was no liquor. Someone threw a snowball at Berrier, which led to an altercation that ended with Berrier's firing several shots.

"It's clear to me that the victims were there up to no good," Telander told Berrier. "However, you can't just pull out a gun and start shooting. You're an extremely lucky young man that no one was killed."

Assistant State's Attorney Joe Lindt said one victim, Ivan Hernandez, was shot once in the leg and twice in the abdomen, fracturing his vertebrae. Another victim, Juan Rodriguez, was shot in the leg, shattering his femur.

"This defendant reacts with violence and will only continue to do so," Lindt told Telander, arguing for a 10-year sentence. "(Berrier) took matters into his own hands, brandished a weapon and took out two individuals."

Berrier's attorney, Ricardo Bird, asked for a minimum four-year sentence, noting Berrier was 16 at the time of the shootings.

"At the time this happened, Bruce was a different kid," Bird said. "He realizes what he did was wrong."

Before sentencing, Berrier told Telander he quickly realized he did not want to lead a life that led him to prison and took every opportunity to better himself during the 870 days he's been in custody, including earning college credits and mentoring other juvenile inmates.

Pamela Ely, program manager at the Kane County juvenile detention facility, testified that Berrier was "an exemplary resident" during his 13 months in custody there before turning 18 and being transferred to the DuPage County jail.

The Rev. Maureen O'Connor of Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard testified she had known Berrier and his family since his baptism. She said Berrier endured a troubled childhood and frequently sought her out to discuss neighborhood, family and spiritual issues.

Berrier, she said, "is someone who would thrive in structure" and has a bright future ahead of him.

Berrier must serve 85 percent of his sentence, and he receives credit for 870 days in custody since his arrest, meaning he could be paroled in about two years.

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