By: Liam Ford for Chicago Tribune
A third man charged with shooting a Chicago police officer who responded to a South Side cell phone store robbery fired at least three separate times at officers while they were trying to capture him and two other men, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Dante Jeffries, 27, was ordered held without bail Tuesday on charges including attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping in the attack about 1:30 p.m. Friday at a T-Mobile store, 4309 S. Ashland Ave. Donzell Grant, 20, and Cortez Harrington, 24, also have been charged in the shooting. Prosecutors said Tuesday that Jeffries is the one believed to have fired the shot that hit the officer. He also is charged in an unrelated store robbery from July 4.
Jeffries and Grant are accused of firing at officers who responded to calls of an armed robbery at the store in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Harrington acted as the getaway driver in the robbery and shooting.
Police have found video of Harrington and Jeffries picking up Grant earlier Friday at a McDonald’s, 36 W. 95th St., and all three going to a Home Depot, 200 W. 87 th St., to buy zip ties and rubber gloves.
About 1:25 p.m., Jeffries and Grant, who each had a gun, went into the store and showed their guns to four employees and a female customer who were in the store, prosecutors said. The two forced the employees into a back room, tied them up with zip ties Grant had in his pockets, and demanded the combination to the safe. As the robbers forced the four employees into the back, the customer and a fifth employee, who had been eating lunch in a back room, ran from the store and called 911, prosecutors said.
Jeffries and Grant threatened to kill the employees if they didn’t give up the safe’s combination, so they opened it and Grant grabbed iPhones from the safe in a bag, prosecutors said. A customer entered the store during the robbery and Jeffries went and forced him into the back room at gunpoint, then zip-tied him with the employee.
Jeffries and Grant went to the front door, but as Jeffries got to the front, Chicago police started arriving, and the two ran out the back, prosecutors said. They ran south in an alley and to the front of the strip mall where the store is, toward where Harrington was waiting in the black Dodge Charger that had previously been caught on surveillance video at the McDonald’s and Home Depot.
The marked police squad car with Deering District officers got to the scene as Jeffries and Grant got to the front of the strip mall. The officers stopped the squad car facing south in the northbound lanes of Ashland as Jeffries and Grant ran west across Ashland, prosecutors said. The officers got out and started to run after them, and as Jeffries and Grant got to the west side of Ashland, they both turned and pointed their guns at the officers, prosecutors said. It’s believed that Jeffries fired the shot that hit the female officer in the left kneecap, prosecutors said. Video surveillance shows them pointing their guns at the officers and one gunshot can be heard on the video, prosecutors said.
The female officer fired twice at Jeffries and Grant and her male partner kept running after them. Both Jeffries and Grant turned around and shot at the officer, prosecutors said. The two ran west into an alley where Harrington was waiting in the Charger, and got in before the Charger drove west, then turned south onto Marshfield as the male officer followed on foot.
The Charger stopped suddently, both Jeffries and Grant got out and the Charger drove off. Both of the men turned their guns on the officer again and at least one of them fired at him, prosecutors said. The two split up, both going west in gangways, and the officer followed Grant, who climbed a fence into an alley.
In the alley, Jeffries had come upon the 43-year-old owner of a van who had been working in the alley, prosecutors said. Jeffries pointed his gun at the man and demanded the keys, but couldn’t get the doors open and shot out the windows of the van before he got in.
The officer heard the gunfire and ran around another way to the alley and saw a van driven by Jeffries start forward, then go in reverse, and pin Grant against a garage as he tried to get in, then drive off, prosecutors said. Grant crawled into the man’s garage to hide, but was found and arrested by officers.
Harrington drove the Charger south on Marshfield, then parked it in front of a fire hydrant in the 4500 block of South Marshfield. Officers found the Charger and saw a 9mm handgun in the back. Harrington went up to the officers and when he was asked, told them the car was his and was arrested—still wearing the same clothes shown in the Home Depot video.
Jeffries drove the van to near 59 th and Wood streets, then abandoned it in an alley. The shirt he was wearing at the T-Mobile store was found discarded under a porch nearby.
The officer was taken to Stroger Hospital, where her condition was stabilized.
Jeffries was arrested Saturday night in the 600 block West Hubbard Street in the Fulton River District neighborhood, police said.
After he was arrested, Grant admitted to being involved. Several witnesses, including the officers, identified Jeffries.