Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson

A Harvey teen has been arrested and charged as an adult with first-degree murder in connection with the gunning down of a man at a New Lenox gas station.

Kevin Johnson, 16, shot 19-year-old Charles Baird of New Lenox to death at the Circle K gas station May 11 and then fled the scene in a stolen Hyundai Santa Fe, according to a statement released by the New Lenox Police Department.

The Santa Fe was recovered after it was involved in a car crash May 15 in Dolton, police officials said.

“After an exhaustive investigation, sufficient evidence was discovered to identify a juvenile offender that was being held at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center on unrelated charges,” according to the statement.

On Thursday, New Lenox police officers obtained a warrant for Johnson's arrest and took him into custody when he was released from the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.

Johnson was taken to the River Valley Juvenile Detention Center, and his bond was set at $2.5 million, officials said. He faces two counts of a first-degree murder.

“This investigation remains open, and there’s a possibility that more charges will be brought in this case,” New Lenox Police Chief April DiSandro said during a news conference Thursday evening.

On Friday, New Lenox police officials said Johnson was charged an adult.

New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said there hadn't been a homicide in the village since August 2000.

Baldermann said the case concerning Baird’s death was a “long, drawn-out investigation” that involved numerous agencies and required a “great deal of evidence processing, interviews and statements that were taken.”

“Our condolences go out to the victim’s family and friends. There is nothing we can say other then we did our very best, our department did their very best to bring justice for you,” Baldermann said. “And although it won’t bring Charlie back, hopefully it bring you some comfort.”

According to New Lenox police, a stolen Hyundai Santa Fe arrived at the Circle K gas station May 11 and pulled up to a pump across from Baird’s vehicle.

While Baird was inside the gas station, an occupant from the Santa Fe tried to open the door to Baird’s Subaru, but it was locked and he returned to the Santa Fe, officials said.

Baird then left the gas station and was approached by a second person who pointed a handgun at him, officials said. After a brief exchange of words, Baird turned and began to run, but he was shot in the back by the armed suspect, officials said.

The suspect then ran back to the Santa Fe, and the vehicle fled the area.

After officers arrived on scene, Baird was located inside the gas station, taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox and then transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, officials said. He died from his injuries May 13 at the hospital.

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