By: JON HAWORTH, ABC News
(CHICAGO) — Two teenage boys were shot to death after asking the suspect how tall he was when they were buying candy from a store.
The incident occurred at approximately 5 p.m. on Saturday June 20 after three teenage boys went to a store in South Chicago to buy some candy and ended up having a brief encounter with 19-year-old Laroy Battle inside the establishment.
“The victims were walking into the store, they saw Battle, he was standing in line while at the store and the victims commented that Battle, he was quite tall, and they asked him how tall he was and hoped to be that tall someday,” said Deputy Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan “Unfortunately, we will never even see the full growth of these poor children.”
The three teenage boys then left the store and proceeded to walk home together when police say that Battle approached them and began shooting.
Jasean Francis, 17, was shot in the back, chest and left hand. Charles Riley, 16, was shot in the back and left leg. The third teen, who was not identified, managed to escape the gunfire. Both of the boys who were shot were taken to University of Chicago Hospital and later died from the injuries they suffered during the shooting.
“The security cameras from the area were able to show the offender discarding a gun in the garbage can and then Battle was eventually found hiding out in a motel … He was arrested without incident.” Deenihan announced in the press conference.
Police also said that they recovered nine shell casings from the scene of the crime.
A prayer vigil to honor the two teenagers was held on Friday night near the scene of the shooting.
“He was a kid,” said Jasean Francis’ aunt Latonya Pettit, according to ABC News’ Chicago station WLS. “Liked video games, snacks. That was his thing. He would walk into this hospital gift shop daily and purchase snacks.”
“He was nice to seniors on the block,” said another of Francis’ aunts, Keena Hoyle. “The nurses looked forward to him coming over there daily. They brought over to the family roses. They watched him grow up as a child.”
Authorities are still trying to understand the motive behind the shootings.
“There was no altercation,” said Deenihan. “There was nothing that would have set off Battle to be angry at these kids. He is about 6’3”, 6’4”, and they literally just asked him how tall he was because he is extremely tall.”
Battle was denied bond and has been charged with two counts of first degree murder. Police said he had a previous conviction for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, for which he received probation.
“Justice was very swift in this case because we got help from the community,” Deenihan declared during his public statement to the press. “The offender was identified quickly because the community called the detectives and they told them that was Battle in the video. That is how this case broke. The private security camera footage provided to CPD was incredibly valuable in this case. The fact that detectives can now retrieve this footage quickly and then request the help of the community to identify these [kinds of] offenders is invaluable.”
“This is just one example of how Chicago can help improve the public safety by working together to remove these very dangerous offenders from the streets,” said Deenihan.