It took days to figure out where all the bullets flew when a man licensed to carry a gun exchanged shots with a masked 16-year-old boy and killed him on a busy street in Oak Park last year.
Investigators counted about a dozen shell casings outside a bank on Madison Street, according to police reports. They dug bullets from the man’s Buick Regal.
The teen was the only person hit that sunny spring morning as bystanders scattered inside cars and crouched behind a telephone pole. One of the bullets traveled across the street into an office building. It apparently came from one of the shots the man fired over his shoulder as he ran away.
The man, who worked for the Chicago Park District, was released within hours after a prosecutor determined over the phone he had fired in self-defense. Nothing was said about him randomly shooting behind him, even though an investigator later questioned the action. And nothing was reported to the Illinois State Police, even though they oversee the training and licensing of concealed carry holders.
A Tribune review found that most of the shootings have been in public places in the Chicago area, and half the cases have involved concealed carry holders firing to defend themselves or someone else from robbers. At least 11 people have been killed, including a man with a license who tried to fend off carjackers on the West Side.
The state police have not collected any information that might improve the training of license holders and possibly better protect them and the public — a reform suggested by police and gun instructors interviewed by the Tribune.
“That’s not our role,” explained Jessica Trame, chief of the Firearms Services Bureau for the state police. “We have to abide by the concealed carry act. … We issue cards; we revoke those cards from those who are prohibited from having them. And if they are not prohibited, there’s no other action on our side.”