A Cook County jury yesterday found an Uptown man guilty of first degree murder in the July, 2014, death of Wil Lewis, the innocent bystander who was shot to death while waiting for a bus on Devon Ave.
Prosecutors alleged Eric Vaughn, 35, and two boys, ages 15 and 17, were traveling in a car on a Saturday afternoon on the 1300 block of Devon when they spotted a rival gang member walking down the street. Vaughn handed the 15-year-old boy a handgun and ordered him and his 17-year-old accomplice to get out of the car and shoot the 19-year-old target.
The two teens exited the car and began chasing the rival gang member, with the younger boy firing 10 rounds, fatally striking Mr. Lewis, but missing his intended target.
Mr. Lewis, a young aspiring photographer, was killed just a half mile from the Rogers Park home he and his wife had just moved into.
I happened to be on Devon at the time of the shooting and witnessed the entire incident unfold. It continues to haunt me.
Vaughn was arrested on foot shortly after the shooting when witnesses identified him to police as the driver of the vehicle. The two teens meanwhile fled to Wisconsin where they were arrested a few weeks later and confessed to their roles in the crime. They currently are serving time in a juvenile detention center.
The jury deliberated for about two hours before returning their verdict against Vaughn. Coincidentally, the assistant state’s attorney who successfully prosecuted the case is a Rogers Park resident, Mike Hogan, who lives just a few blocks from the site of the shooting.
According to Mike, community residents played an essential role in the apprehension of the individuals responsible for Wil Lewis’ death. Without their willingness to provide authorities with information, including descriptions of the assailants and their vehicle, the police could not have made the arrests and prosecutors would not have been able to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The shooting occurred in an area of the Rogers Park-Edgewater community not known for gang violence. Over 600 residents attended a vigil and march shortly after the incident to pay tribute to Mr. Lewis and his family and demonstrate our community’s resilience in the face of such a senseless tragedy.
Rogers Park residents recalled Mr. Lewis’ tragic death recently when another young man became the unintended victim of gang-related gunfire. Shane Colombo, a Northwestern University graduate student who had just moved to our neighborhood, was fatally shot Labor Day weekend while waiting for a bus on Clark just south of Howard.
Tragically, unlike the Wil Lewis shooting, no witnesses have stepped forward with information on Mr. Colombo’s death, and the gunman remains at large.
If you have any information that might aid in the investigation and prosecution of Shane Colombo’s murder, please contact Area North Detectives at 312-744-8200.
In the meantime, I want to thank the Chicago Police Department and State’s Attorney Hogan for their superb work in bringing Wil Lewis’ murderers to justice. And I especially want to salute the community residents who stepped forward with valuable information that led to the arrest and prosecution of the wrongdoers. It is this kind of partnership between community residents and the police that helps to reduce crime and prevent future senseless tragedies.