Three men suspected in the fatal stabbing of two men in an Edgewater apartment were part of a "crew" that had ties to drug-trafficking organizations -- and may be responsible for several drug-related mass killings -- police disclosed today.
The crew's suspected ringleader, Arturo Ibarra, 37, was shot and killed by police during a vehicle pursuit just after the two stabbing victims were discovered inside the fourth-floor apartment in the 5800 block of North Winthrop Avenue, police said. The crew’s two other members were taken into police custody, awaiting criminal charges that had not been announced as of early Sunday afternoon.
The victims who died on Winthrop had their throats slit after apparently setting up a drug deal with Ibarra and the other two suspects on Saturday, a law enforcement source said.
Ibarra and the two other suspects had met with those victims on at least one other occasion. The suspects had a "substantial" of money in their possession Saturday when police got to them, the source said.
That source added that there were times when the trio would set up drug deals with buyers they knew, and when large amounts of money were involved, the trio would rob and kill the buyers.
"This is a crew of individuals we've been looking at for some time," Nick Roti, chief of Chicago police's organized crime division told reporters at a news conference today at police headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave.
Police are also investigating whether the group was involved in several drug-related mass killings, including four men found dead inside a garage in the West Lawn neighborhood last September and three men found bound and gagged inside a car on the 2300 block of West 36th Street in the McKinley Park neighborhood last April, a different law enforcement source said.
The trio worked for a roofing company, but it's believed they also sold drugs, and even robbed and killed some of their customers, the source said.
Roti did say the police department "suspected" the three men were involved in other homicides across the city.
When asked for a possible motive behind the Saturday killings, Roti said the group "worked in the narcotics business" and had no problems killing people. Roti also called Ibarra a "bad guy."
Ibarra had several previous arrests with both misdemeanor and felony convictions for burglary, according to court records.
When the Tribune called a phone number at Ibarra's listed address Sunday morning, the person who answered the phone declined to comment.
Without identifying them by name, Roti said the three victims were all involved in drug dealing and that the two dead victims -- who were related to one another -- lived in the building where they were slain. Neither victim had been positively identified as of early Sunday afternoon.
The third person from the Winthrop address was taken in critical condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. No new condition was available today.
Autopsies determined that Ibarra died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, while the two victims both died from "incised" wounds to their necks, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. All three deaths were ruled homicides.
Gang crimes officers were on surveillance on Winthrop while looking into a narcotics-related homicide Saturday when they saw a group of people run from the building, just before a call of "shot fired" came from the location at about 5:30 p.m., police said.
As a marked police car attempted to stop the suspects who were fleeing in a vehicle that multiple witnesses later described as a pickup truck, the suspects rammed the squad car and fired at police, wounding one officer in the leg, according to a police statement.
During a short chase the suspects continued to fire at police before the vehicle was stopped and police returned fire, killing one suspect and taking two others into custody, police said.
The police officer who was shot is 39, has 12 years on the force, and is currently assigned to the Gang Investigations Unit, police said. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital of Evanston in good condition; today Roti said the officer is "doing well."
"He's a tough guy," Roti said.
Ibarra, of the 4500 block of South Troy Street, was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, according to a medical examiner's spokesman.
Annie Sweeney and William Lee contributed to this reportCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times