Suspect arrested in killing of 15-year-old Za’shawn Coats


Rockford police have arrested 24-year-old Juan Mora, of Rockford, in connection with the murder of 15-year-old Za’shawn Coats on Monday afternoon.

Rockford Police say Coats was walking with friends Monday, in the area of Kent and Ferguson Streets, at approximately 4 p.m.

When officers arrived, they found him dead in the street, from a bullet wound to the head.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Za’shawn’s funeral service.

Za’shawn’s aunt, Lavanda Michelle, writes, “Our beautiful boy who was not gang-affiliated was walking home with two friends when a car stopped, asked if they were in a gang, to which he replied, ‘No.’ A gun was then produced and he and one friend were shot.”

Dozens of police officers crowded the scene on Monday.  They put up caution tape around every corner, blocking off the intersection for hours and spent hours going door to door, talking to neighbors.  

Police even setup a temporary home base in a neighboring church, to put the pieces together and get out of the cold.

Detectives from the Violent Crimes and Gang Units conducted follow up investigations and identified Mora as a suspect. He was already in Winnebago County Jail on an unrelated charge of driving on a revoked licence.

Mora was charged with First Degree Murder and is being held on a $10 million bond.

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