ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Winnebago County State’s Attorney says the killing of 15-year-old Za’Shawn Coats was gang related.
State’s Attorney J. Hanley said Friday that the man convicted Thursday of Coats’ murder, Juan Mora, 27, approached the boy and his friends while they were walking in the area of Ferguson and Kent Street on January 21st, 2019.
Officials said Mora then asked if they were members of the Latin Kings gang.
When the boys answered that they were not in a gang, Mora fired two shots at them, one of which struck and killed Coats.
Rockford Police Officers responded to the scene after a ShotSpotter alert alerted them to the shooting and found Coats unresponsive in the street.
Assistant State’s Attorney Alesandra Friend said, “This senseless shooting was directly related to gang violence in this community. The investigation and prosecution required the assistance of members of this community we appreciate the bravery of the witnesses who came forward. Because of their cooperation, Juan Mora will be held accountable for this horrible crime.”
Mora was arrested on January 25th as a suspect crime after he was identified by gang intelligence and surveillance video, police said.
On Thursday, May 6th, 2021, Mora was found guilty of First Degree Murder and 3 counts of Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm.
He is due to be sentenced on June 11th.