MOUNT GREENWOOD, CHICAGO – A day after a police-involved shooting left a 25-year-old man dead, authorities Sunday worked to untangle how a chaotic scene on Chicago’s Far Southwest Side erupted in fatal gunfire.
Joshua Beal, of Indianapolis, was visiting Chicago with his fiancee Saturday to serve as a pallbearer in his cousin’s funeral, according to family members. Marcus Washington, 26, was found in a yard between two houses in Indianapolis, fatally shot in the head on Oct. 27, according to family and a local news report. Beal and Washington previously lived in Chicago.
As several mourners left the cemetery, some headed back to the funeral home while others, including Beal, went to visit an uncle in the hospital, relatives said.
Beal, who never made it to see his uncle, was fatally shot after he and several relatives were involved in what authorities called a road rage incident with an off-duty police officer and an off-duty firefighter. A uniformed, off-duty Chicago police sergeant arrived at the scene in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood while on his way to work.
Both the sergeant and the officer fired their weapons, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. It is not yet known which of their shots may have hit the man, he said.
Beal’s mother, Tiffaney Boxley, of Chicago, said her son had a “promising” future.
Beal earned his associate’s degree in business administration in December 2015 from Ivy Tech Community College and planned to enroll in Franklin University with the hope of one day owning his own business. Two months ago, he proposed to his longtime girlfriend and the mother of two sons, ages 4 and 2.
“He wasn’t in no gang,” Boxley said. “He was a good kid. He was good person. You took a child who took care of his family.”
Boxley added, “I’m upset to be put in this position by the people who are supposed to be protecting us. They’re breaking my family all around me.”
The confrontation unfolded around 3 p.m. Saturday in a neighborhood that is home to many active and retired police officers.
While several carloads of relatives were stopped in traffic in the 11100 block of South Troy Street, an off-duty firefighter told one of the people driving with Beal’s party that he or she was illegally blocking the fire lane, Guglielmi said. Police said Beal and his relatives began arguing with the firefighter.
Shortly after, an off-duty Chicago police officer nearby saw the altercation unfolding, approached the scene and became involved in the argument, Guglielmi said.
The uniformed Chicago police sergeant, who was on his way to work, came across the scene and saw a man with a gun in his hand. The sergeant displayed his weapon, Guglielmi said. As the incident escalated and the man with the gun did not drop his weapon, shots were fired, and the man was struck multiple times, Guglielmi said.
Paramedics took Beal to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition, said Chicago Fire Department Cmdr. Jeff Lyle. He was pronounced dead at 3:44 p.m.
Beal’s weapon, a handgun, was recovered at the scene, Guglielmi said.
Chicago police are investigating whether Beal’s gun was “fired or may have misfired” during the incident, Guglielmi said.
Beal did not have a concealed carry permit in Illinois, Guglielmi said. If he had one in Indiana, it would not have applied in Illinois.
The police account sharply contrasts with Beal’s relatives’ version of events.
Beal’s sister Cordney Boxley said a man who she believed was a police officer ran her 17-year-old sister off the road. The man exited the vehicle and “he just started shooting,” hitting the windshield of a car containing Beal, who had pulled his gun when he saw the man holding a gun on their cousin. Beal legally owned the gun and did not fire it, she said.
Two brief cellphone videos of the incident, filmed by witness Britnie Nelson, 32, of Hickory Hills, and obtained by the Tribune, show the last moments of the confrontation before shots are fired.
Several people can be seen in the street amid parked cars, yelling and screaming. A man wearing a red T-shirt and jeans approaches the group, pointing a handgun with his right hand. The same man, still holding the weapon, as well as another man, order a few people in the group to back away and later, to get on the ground.
The man in the red shirt later appears to tuck his weapon into the waistband of his jeans.
The group continues to yell and exchange words for several more seconds, while a young woman briefly approaches the men before being led away by a companion.
The camera continues to pan back and forth, showing a man in a white shirt briefly pointing a gun then lowering it.
In the second video, which pans to the ground, there is screaming and then gunshots are heard — first, a series of two individual shots and then a volley of multiple shots in succession. There is a brief pause, then another solo shot. Then two more pops, and several pops in quick order. Then two more individual shots.
People can be heard screaming and crying, and can be seen running away from the scene as the video is still pointed at the ground.
“I felt bad because I never seen so much chaos,” Nelson said. “It should’ve never happened in the first place. They come to lay someone to rest, then this person dies for no reason.”
Investigators with the Independent Police Review Authority are talking to several eyewitnesses and are taking steps to authenticate the videos and images that have been widely circulated, IPRA spokeswoman Mia Sissac said in a statement.
“While it is still very early in the investigation, we can confirm that early ballistic evidence suggests that multiple firearms were discharged. It is our hope that people will wait until all evidence is brought to light before making any conclusions about what happened yesterday evening,” Sissac said.
A 28-year-old man, who relatives identified as Beal’s brother, has been arrested for attempting to disarm a peace officer and aggravated battery of a police officer. He tackled and placed the off-duty officer in a chokehold, Guglielmi said. Charges against him are pending.
Tensions remained high with competing demonstrations Sunday afternoon near the site of the fatal shooting. Police patrols were increased in Mount Greenwood in response to the demonstrations.
Hundreds of Blue Lives Matter activists and Mount Greenwood residents attempted to drown out a brief gathering of about 15 Black Lives Matter protesters near 111th Street and Kedzie Avenue.
“We want retraining for police officers so they can learn how to de-escalate the situation,” local activist Ja’Mal Green said. “This should not be happening here in Greenwood. These people support police officers to kill black men.”
At a news conference Sunday night, Beal’s sister Cordney Boxley, who was joined by members of Black Lives Matter Chicago, said her brother has been misrepresented.
“My brother is painted as this bad person when really he was a father, a family man who loved his kids and his family,” she said.
“Justice will never be served. Because whatever happens, he’ll always get to go home to his family,” Boxley said, referring to the shooter. “I’ll never see my brother again, my nephews will never see their father and my mother will never see her son.”