Suspect in bus shooting was on gang rivals' hit list
THE ACCUSED | Alleged accomplice's mom: 'I just want to hold him and ask: why?'

May 15, 2007

Julian High student Blair Holt was killed in a war zone -- 103rd and Halsted.

That's where Blair, riding home from school on a CTA bus, got caught in a long-running battle between two factions of the Gangster Disciples -- gang-bangers who call themselves the "10-4s" and the "Goonies."

There have been tauntings, beatings and shots fired. The Goonies even had a list of people they wanted dead, teens with gang affiliations told a social worker.

Michael Pace -- the 16-year-old charged with killing Blair and wounding four others -- was on that list, according to Art Dunn, the social worker who tried to steer Pace away from gangs.

Dunn says he last saw Pace in April at the funeral of another Julian student who was shot. "Michael was high. He was hurting. He was scared. And he had two boys with him for protection."

Last Wednesday, the Goonies showed up at a gas station at 103rd and Aberdeen to harass the 10-4s, sources said. Kevin Jones, said to be a 10-4 like Pace, allegedly fired at Goonies.

On Thursday, Pace and Jones plotted to shoot a Goonie at the bus stop at 103rd and Halsted, prosecutors said. A Goonie was on a bus and flashed a gang sign at Pace and Jones, a witness told police.

Jones handed Pace a .40-caliber pistol and a hooded sweatshirt decorated with animals, prosecutors said. Pace pulled on the hoodie and jumped on the bus. Then he allegedly unleashed a volley of gunfire. The four bullets missed the rival, who was sitting in the middle of the bus. But they killed Blair and wounded four other Julian students, officials say.

Pace was arrested Saturday after retired Chicago Police Sgt. Walter Perkins got a call from a friend's son who knew Pace. Pace was suicidal and ready to surrender. Perkins called his ex-partner and they arranged to meet Pace at a strip mall. When he arrived at 103rd and Michigan, Perkins walked to the car Pace was in and said, "Are you Michael Pace?"

"He was visibly shaken," said police Sgt. Anthony Carothers, who accompanied Perkins. "He started crying when he saw his mother arrive. The reality was setting in."

Jones has confessed on videotape to giving Pace the gun, officials said.

On Monday, both Pace and the 15-year-old Jones cried as they appeared in court to face murder and attempted murder charges.

Pace was expelled from Julian and lived with his mother and siblings, but he did not have a relationship with his father, said Dunn, the South Side social worker who mentored Pace.

Dunn met Pace three years ago when the boy's family moved from Englewood to near Mount Vernon Park. Pace told Dunn he was getting into fights because of his gang affiliation. Pace joined the basketball team at the agency where Dunn works, but he got so involved with gangs that he was barred from the center.

"People want to say Mike is a monster," he said. "No one wants to hear he was a good kid."

Dunn said other boys told him Pace's name was on a hit list kept by the "Goonsquad." The list was part of a feud brewing since January after a fight between the rival gangs at a gas station, Dunn said.

"Everyone is going to be peaceful right now until Blair's funeral, but this [gang war] is not over," he said. "I would like for it to be over. But it's not over."

Jones' mother, Karen Jones, said her son also is a good kid.

"He got caught up in the wrong crowd," she said. "Why did he have a gun? I don't know what's going through Kevin's mind. I just want to hold him and ask him: why?"

Jones attended a Fenger High program for over-age eighth- graders who have failed at least one grade, officials said.

Karen Jones said she repeatedly asked her son to study, but he would not listen. Instead, he wanted to "do what the next person's doing. The only gang they should have been in is school."

She said she is "hurting for my son and all the children shot on the bus, especially the Holt family." Yet she does not think her son should have been charged as an adult. "I believe everybody deserves a second chance."

Violence has echoed along 103rd in recent months, said one Julian High parent, Travelle Stewart, a Chicago Police officer. Stewart said he has made two arrests on 103rd in the past month while off-duty. His son was robbed at gunpoint three weeks ago for spare change and a gold chain.

"This is every day over here. It could have been my son," said Stewart, who has banned his son from taking the bus.

The war between the 10-4s and Goonies highlights the breakdown of leadership in the Gangster Disciples, officials say.

The 10-4s, named for 104th Street, hang out near Mount Vernon Park, and the Goonies, also known as Goontown, mark their turf near Ada Park at 112th and Ada. In the past, their members would have answered to a hierarchy headed by a chairman. But when prosecutors sent top leaders to prison in the 1990s, factions of the gang began warring.

1 Teen Killed in Chicago Bus Shooting

CHICAGO - A gunman boarded a Chicago Transit Authority bus on the city's South Side on Thursday afternoon and opened fire, killing one teenager and wounding four others, authorities said.

The suspect fired multiple shots and then exited the bus and ran, said Assistant Deputy Superintendent Eugene Williams. He did not comment about a motive for the shooting and asked the public to call in with tips.

The victims were all taken to area hospitals. Blair Holt, 16, died at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said hospital spokeswoman Deb Song. Two teenage girls remained in fair condition at Advocate Christ, Song said.

A 16-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy were in fair condition at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Mirabelli said.

The shooting took place around 3:15 p.m., said CTA spokeswoman Wanda Taylor.

The driver quickly pulled the bus over to a spot she believed was safe, said CTA spokeswoman Sheila Gregory.