19-year-old Austin Rice is a known Latin Counts street gang member with a history of violence.
On Tuesday, Rockford Police responded to a shooting in the 1600 block of Herbert Avenue, where a car had been hit by gunfire. While no one was hurt, there was a 2 year old child inside the car.
Police arrested Rice for felony charges including Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm and records show this was not his first offense.
Rockford Police Lieutenant Kurt Whisenand says that is usually the case for most gang members.
“More than just anecdotally, when we see the same names over and over again, we know statistically, from physical evidence from shooting scenes, that there’s a majority of these crimes that are intertwined and interrelated,” Lt. Whisenand said.
Rice was recently arrested in October of 2016 for the unlawful use of a weapon.
Police say he was in possession of an illegal handgun at the time of his arrest, while they were investigating a series of shots fired calls around Rockford, but he was released on bond just last month.
Rice and other gang members are the targets of Rockford authorities.
“We understand that the whole criminal justice system (has) many layers to it,” Lt. Whisenand said. “We have a small part in that. We try to do our job the best we can every day and just focus on one case at a time, and try to lower the violent crime rate, trying to get those offenders off the street. What happens to them after we arrest them, we have a small part in that but we don’t have the ultimate say.”
But for Rockford Police arresting repeat offenders like Rice still remains a priority.
“From an investigative standpoint, obviously we know there are people who are committing these crimes. We’re familiar with many of them. We’re familiar with the groups and the gang members that are committing a lot of the violent crime, so we tend to focus on them,” said Lt. Whisenand.
Rice is now being held on a $50,000 bond in the Winnebago County jail.