ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An armed robbery victim, who was a licensed gun owner, returned fire after a 15-year-old suspect began shooting during an online meetup, police said.
According to the Rockford Police Department, around 1:45 p.m. Thursday, March 30th, officers were called to the 1500 block of Kerstin Court for a reported shooting.
They learned that two victims were selling goods to four teenage suspects after arranging a meetup online, police said.
During the transaction, the four suspects tried to steal the items and a struggle ensued. One of the suspects, a 15-year-old boy, pulled out a gun and started shooting.
One of the victims had his own handgun and fired back. Police said the victim was a licensed gun owner.
The four suspects ran but were intercepted by police officers.
Authorities said the teen suspect had possession of a gun that was reported stolen out of Genoa.
The 15-year-old was charged with Armed Robbery, Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery, Aggravated Discharge of a Weapon, Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Possession of a Stolen Firearm.
Another 15-year-old was charged with Armed Robbery, Possession of Stolen Property, and Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery.
A 17-year-old teen was charged with Armed Robbery, Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery, and an outstanding Winnebago County warrant for their arrest.
Another 17-year-old was taken into custody for an outstanding Kane County arrest warrant.
“As the number of online purchases and sales of goods has increased, so has the potential risks associated with these transactions when they involve meeting up with strangers,” says Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd. “In an effort to keep citizens safe, the Rockford Police Department, along with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, encourages buyers and sellers to use our police facilities when conducting an in-person purchase exchange.”
Chief Redd also stated, “We ask that you use common sense. If the buyer or seller doesn’t want to meet at one of these Safe Zones or in a public place, take that as a red flag, and do not make that purchase or sale.”
Rockford Police have designated all three police precincts as Safe Zones for online meetups, along with the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center.