Several persons of interest are being interviewed by police following an attempted robbery that turned into a deadly shootout, leaving four people dead and two wounded Wednesday night in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood on the Far South Side.
The shootout happened during an attempted armed robbery at about 9:30 p.m. inside The Connect, a department-type store in the 500 block of East 130th Street, police said. At least one of several would-be robbers exchanged gunfire with a security guard, authorities said.
"These are heartless people," said Sam Rama, the store's manager. He's offering a $3,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of those responsible.
A law enforcement source said a video camera inside the store captured the several-minute-long gun battle that started when store employees fought back.
"Hopefully that will give them a lot of answers to figure out exactly who the rest of the people are," said Rama.
Four men, including one suspected teen shooter, were killed, and two other people, including a 17-year-old boy also believed to be a shooter, were injured. A woman, 39-year-old Reese Jackson, was also shot during the melee.
As of late Thursday afternoon, no charges had been filed but more than two "persons of interest" are being interviewed, including the teen suspect who was shot in the thigh and survived, according to a police source.
Police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak could not confirm that suspects are being interviewed or that anyone was in custody, calling it an "ongoing investigation."
The deceased teen was identified as 17-year-old Alex Spikes, who was pronounced dead at 10 p.m. at Roseland Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. An autopsy performed Thursday determined he died of a gunshot wound to the chest. His address was not known.
Three other men who a police source said were affiliated with the store were pronounced dead on the scene, including Michael Banks, of the 3900 block of Willow Street in Hobart, Ind., and who was in his early 30s, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Thab Arafen, 45, of the 2900 block of 173rd Place, in Lansing; and Weam Salem, 25, of an unidentified address, were also pronounced dead on the scene, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Rama said Arafen was a father of five children.
Autopsies Thursday determined all three died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the medical examiner’s office, which ruled the deaths homicides.
Asked about the shootout while attending a press event announcing a massive Chicago Transit Authority rehabilitation project, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said he believes it wasn't random but rather a personal vendetta.
"It was something I've never seen or experienced in my life. What I witnessed last night was extremely horrifying," he said.
The woman was shot multiple times and remains in serious condition at Roseland Community Hospital, while the teen was initially listed in good condition at MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island with a gunshot wound to the thigh, according to police.
Police in more than a dozen squad cars and other police vehicles surrounded The Connect late Wednesday. The store sells cell phones, blue jeans, beauty and dollar store items and serves Altgeld Gardens residents.
A group of people who said they were related to the store owners were gathered near the scene waiting for information, but declined to comment on who was in the store at the time of the shooting.