Chicago gang members cooperated with police to find suspects in shooting of officers

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Members of a Chicago street gang helped police apprehend and charge a suspect in connection to last week’s shooting of two on-duty police officers, the Chicago Police Department said Sunday.

Information provided by several members of the La Raza street gang helped police to identify a driver and a shooter who they said pulled up alongside two plainclothes officers last Tuesday and opened fire with a military-style rifle, shooting one officer in the arm and hip, the other in the back, the department said.

Police arrested and charged 18-year-old Angel Gomez, the suspected driver, with two counts of attempted murder, according to department officials.

The two male officers, who were driving a covert Chicago Police Department van in the city’s South Side at the time of the attack, were mistaken for rival gang members, police said. There is no evidence, at this time, that suggests the suspects knew the victims were police officers when they shot at them, police said.

"Everybody in the gang knew at that point that these gang members did not shoot rival gang members, they shot officers," Chicago Police Commander Brendan Deenihan said referring to the La Raza members at a press conference on Sunday. "At that point, these individuals cooperated with us and we were able to identify the driver and the shooter.”

Gomez, who police said was out on a previous gun charge from January, confessed and was charged as an adult, Deenihan said. He is expected to appear in bond court on Monday, according to Deenihan. It was not clear if he has an attorney at this time.

Police said the suspected shooter, who was also identified by the street gang, is still at large.

"We are still looking for the shooter at this time," Deenihan said. "It's a very active and ongoing investigation."

A police dog located the attack weapon buried in a wooded area, according to Deenihan.

“The dog followed the scent and actually found this rifle buried,” Deenihan said. “This rifle was obviously buried and hidden because these guys wanted to come back and get it.”

Images posted by a Chicago Police Department spokesperson on Twitter showed the suspected vehicle, a black minivan, with multiple bullet holes in it. The department said last week that the officers were wearing protective vests at the time of the shooting and had managed to return fire at the vehicle.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson acknowledged on Sunday that the city has recently had "quite a few" rifle shootings in the district where the attack happened.

He did not say where he believed the high power assault weapons were flowing from, but he attributed the problem to a lack of “accountability for these gun offenders in the city of Chicago.”

Johnson said last Tuesday’s attack was a reminder of how difficult and dangerous "this job can be."

"We just have to absolutely do something about this gun violence,” Johnson said while speaking at Sunday’s press conference. “If these individuals, these maniacs, will shoot at the police officers like that, do you think that they really care about shooting at an average citizen in the city? The answer is no.”

Witnesses reported hearing as many as 30 shots of gunfire.

One witness, who declined to give her name, told ABC affiliate WLS-TV last week that she was waiting at a nearby bus stop when the incident occurred.

"They weren't messing around," she said. "I've seen shootings but I've never seen anything like that."

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