Officer John Rivera was shot and killed when Menelik Jackson, 24, and Jovan Battle, 32, fired into a car on March 23 after Jackson and another friend had a fight with a group of men outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Chicago’s River North area, according to The Associated Press.
Besides killing the off-duty police officer, the suspects critically injured a 23-year-old man not identified in the report, according to CNN.
A third suspect remains at large.
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) March 25, 2019
Rivera had been a Chicago officer for nearly two years.
“John’s a sweetheart. He’s an angel,” said friend Jennifer Navarro, 23. “Why would someone just want to take his life away like that? He had a whole life ahead of him.”
John Rivera was known as John Petty to his friends who shared these pics of #ChicagoPolice officer with @cbschicago. John was off-duty when he was tragically shot & killed after a night out in #RiverNorth. #CPD says it could be case of mistaken identity. #RIP @Chicago_Police pic.twitter.com/XQJeR4zRyO
— LAUREN VICTORY (@LaurenVictory) March 23, 2019
Commander William Bradley of the Chicago Police Department was cited by WLS as saying that Rivera was committed to public service.
“My third shift watch is really struggling because he was such a good person. Not only a good police officer but a good person,” Bradley said.
‘Act of Cowardice’
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was cited by CNN as saying at a news conference Monday that after getting involved in a fight with a group of Hispanic men, “in an act of cowardice, Mr. Jackson went to get a gun to settle this petty dispute, which resulted in him murdering the first Hispanic man that he came in contact with.”
Jackson allegedly planned to shoot a member of the group—revelers on a party bus—but they had already left the area.
About an hour after the altercation, the suspect targeted a vehicle where officer Rivera was sitting with three friends after visiting a pizza bar in the neighborhood.
“I guess he settled for the first Hispanic he saw,” Johnson said, according to The Associated Press.
Rivera was shot in the chest, arm, and mouth.
He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The wounded friend was taken to the hospital in critical condition but is expected to survive.
‘Real and Present Danger’
Officials announced Monday that the alleged gunman, Jackson, was being charged with murder and attempted murder, along with Battle.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke ordered the two men held without bond.
“Both gentlemen pose a real and present threat to the victims, the live victims, in this case, this community, and every other human being on the planet that they come into contact with,” the judge said.
When arresting the shooter Jackson, Detectives used Ofc. Rivera's handcuffs to place him into custody. Also, we learned from those in the car that when shots were fired, Rivera leaned over and shielded his girlfriend with his body from the gunfire. pic.twitter.com/DB1AvxbFhk
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) March 25, 2019
On the night of the shooting, Battle met up with Jackson and a third individual not identified in the report with the aim of finding the group from the party bus fight, according to Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Murphy said surveillance camera footage showed Jackson pulling out a handgun and aiming it directly at the driver’s window of the car Rivera was sitting in.
Before approaching the vehicle, the prosecutor said Jackson pointed at the car Rivera was in several times before approaching,
“Jackson is clearly seen on video pulling out a handgun and pointing [at] the driver’s window from a few feet away,” Murphy told the court. “Surviving victims [heard] from outside the car, ‘Let’s blow this [expletive] up.’”
Assistant Public Defender Christopher Anderson, who is representing Battle, said his client is unemployed and suffers from bipolar disorder and depression. Jackson works at an auto parts shop, according to Anderson.
Chicago Police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi was cited by WLS as saying that Jackson had at one point applied to be a police officer with the Chicago Police Department.
A polygraph test taken during his evaluation resulted in Jackson being arrested for an armed home invasion.
Jackson pleaded guilty and got probation, according to WLS.
He was not admitted to the force.
“The most egregious part about him is that he actually once thought he had what it took to wear a Chicago police star,” Johnson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.