PILSEN — A 16-year-old boy has been charged in the fatal shooting outside a Southwest Side school in December that killed two boys and wounded two other teens, police said Friday.
The boy is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and several felony gun charges in connection to the Dec. 16 shooting outside Benito Juarez Community Academy, 2150 S. Laflin St., Police Supt. David Brown said at a press conference.
The shooting occurred around 2:45 p.m., just as students were leaving classes on a Friday afternoon, police previously said.
Brandon Perez, a 15-year-old Benito Juarez student, and Nathan Billegas, a 14-year-old Chicago Bulls College Prep student, were killed, according to family and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
A 15-year-old boy hit in his thigh and shoulder and a 15-year-old girl grazed in her thigh were hospitalized in good condition, police said.
The 16-year-old boy was arrested Thursday in the 1800 block of West 17th Street, police said. He had a previously reported stolen car in his possession, police said.
Brown said more details on what led to the shooting will be revealed during the boy’s bond court hearing Saturday.
“We don’t currently have a clear motive for why a 16-year-old would want to shoot and kill other kids,” Brown said. “And it’s unconscionable, as you can imagine, trying to find some reasoning behind it. It’s senseless. There’s no good reason.”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said the charges were “the first step towards justice” and thanked the witnesses and people who came forward during the investigation.
“The fact of the matter is we lost two teenagers and our suspect is also a teen — there are three children who are lost in this, not to mention the mental and emotional toll this has taken the Juarez students, faculty and staff,” Foxx said.
After the shooting, Benito Juarez students walked out of class to protest violence in their neighborhoods and urge anyone with information about the shooting to speak up.
Well wishers donated thousands of dollars to the families of both boys.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said at the press conference that the district has worked with police to boost safety around schools since the shooting.
Those precautions include making patrol officers available during dismissals and select situations that need special attention and conducting “external checks throughout the day to look for suspicious activity,” Martinez said.
The shooting outside Benito Juarez was at least the third during this school to occur during dismissal at a Chicago public high school.
Four students were shot outside Schurz High School in Old Irving Park during the first week of classes in August. Also in December, a 15-year-old student was killed outside Michele Clark Magnet High School on the Near West Side.