Updated at 5:15 p.m.
A shooting early Saturday morning that left an off-duty Hispanic Chicago police officer dead is being investigated as a possible hate crime, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a Monday press conference.
Police allege that 24-year-old Menelik Jackson and another suspect were involved in a dispute with a group of Hispanics on a party bus at a downtown McDonald’s. Police say Jackson went to get a gun and returned to the scene, but the party bus had already left. They say Jackson began driving around and shot at the first Hispanic man he came in contact with — off-duty Police Officer John Rivera.
According to police, Rivera was leaving a bar and pizza place with another off-duty officer and two other friends. Police allege Jackson approached the four after they’d gotten into a car, and Jackson allegedly shot and killed Rivera and injured one of the other men. Jackson was allegedly with two other suspects when he shot.
Police say the incident was caught on police surveillance video. Johnson also said the department’s use of license plate readers was directly responsible for apprehending the suspects.
Johnson said his son worked alongside Rivera in the 6th District.
“Chicago lost a young guardian who wanted nothing else but to dedicate his life to making the city he grew up in safer,” said Johnson.
“My third watch is really struggling, because he was such a good person,” said 6th District Cmdr. William Bradley, Jackson’s supervisor.
“We are going to work to keep those officers going and honor his memory and support his family,” said Bradley.
Jackson and Jovan Battle, 32, have been charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. Police believe they’ve identified the third suspect, but have not apprehended him.
Shannon Heffernan is a criminal justice reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @Shannon_h.