Imperial Gangsters target Latin Kings in drive by

by Erik Gabrielsen
June 28, 2000

MEDILL NEWS SERVICE

ATTEMPT

Prosecutors Wednesday described for jurors a gang-related drive-by shooting last year in the Humboldt Park neighborhood that they say was caused by a war over disputed territory.

According to prosecutors, two Latin Kings gang members were standing on West Armitage Avenue when a dark blue Oldsmobile crept toward them. A man leaned out the car window and opened fired. After about a dozen shots, the car sped off.

Running from the scene, 20-year-old Edwin Rivas said he ducked into an apartment hallway two buildings away and checked to make sure he was not hit. He saw a hole in his shirt, but said there was only a scratch on the skin of his lower left ribcage where the bullet grazed him.

The other Latin Kings member, Jesus Vega, 19, ran in the other direction and was unharmed, Rivas said.

The alleged shooter, Gabriel Flores, 30, of 2447 N. Ridgeway Ave., is on trial at Cook County Criminal Court on two charges of attempted murder and one charge each of aggravated battery with a gun and armed violence.

Assistant State's Attorney Lawrence X. O'Reilly said Wednesday during opening statements that Flores is a member of the Imperial Gangsters.

The incident, which happened at 3230 W. Armitage Ave. on May 28, 1999, was part of a street war between the Latin Kings and the Imperial Gangsters over disputed territory, O'Reilly told the jury. Armitage Avenue is the border between the two gangs' territories.

Carl M. Walsh, an attorney for Flores, told the jury during his opening statement that no gun was recovered from Flores, and that Rivas' received his minor injury from falling to the ground during the incident, not from a bullet.

Both Rivas and Vega testified that Flores was the man who fired shots at them. They also identified Flores in a police line-up the night after the incident.

The two Latin King members admitted they are currently in custody on unrelated charges. Rivas was convicted of felony possession of a firearm. Vega was convicted of delivery of a controlled substance.

Both the Latin Kings and the Imperial Gangsters have been in the news recently for their involvement in high-profile crimes.

The leader of the Latin Kings, Gustavo "Gino" Colon, was sentenced on May 22 to life in prison for running a $1 million cocaine ring from the Menard Correctional Center in downstate Illinois where he was serving a 25-year prison sentence for murder.

Earlier this year, police in Superior, Wis., found the body of Carl Peterson, 45, inside a boat being towed by Peterson's 18-year-old son, Patrick. Patrick Peterson pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder his father to improve his standing with the Imperial Gangsters.

Flores faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday in the courtroom of Cook County Circuit Judge Preston L. Bowie