Web Extra! Updated 6/23/2009 1:49 p.m.
Two men believed to be responsible for the June 15 shooting death of Keyana Bates have been taken into custody, according to Police Chief Jim Ryan, and first-degree murder charges were filed against the man suspected of pulling the trigger.
Darrell J. Topps, 29, of Bellwood, is facing a single count of first-degree murder for allegedly killing Bates outside a Forest Park apartment building at the corner of Dunlop and York streets. Topps was also charged with two counts of attempted murder, said Ryan, for firing 15 rounds in the direction of two 19-year-old males who were in the car with Bates when she was shot. The driver of the car was struck once in the left shoulder. He was released from an area hospital that night.
Police also sought first-degree murder charges against the man they said drove Topps to Forest Park, but the Cook Count state’s attorney’s office did not approve those charges, said Ryan. That individual, 24-year-old Tristan Agee, of Maywood, was charged with resisting arrest, which stems from when he was taken into custody June 19.
Agee is also wanted by the Cook County Sheriff’s Police for resisting arrest, and was on parole for a narcotics arrest, according to police.
Topps has an extensive criminal background that includes 12 convictions for weapons charges.
Two other men are believed to have been passengers in Agee’s vehicle at the time of the shooting, said Ryan. Detectives are “still working on that” aspect of the investigation, he said.
“Obviously, only one person pulled the trigger,” Ryan said.
Both Topps and Agee were arrested Friday evening, June 19, after Forest Park detectives and members of a west suburban gang task force followed the suspects through Chicago to a Burger King restaurant. Investigators had received word about the vehicle allegedly used in the shooting and set up surveillance. The car was followed to a Chicago apartment near the intersection of North and Kilpatrick, where Topps got into the car, said Ryan. Detectives continued to track the suspect to the fast food restaurant and waited to make the arrest when the individuals came back to the vehicle.
The day after the June 15 shooting, investigators began to focus their attention on a short list of suspects identified through witness accounts that included conversations with the two men who were traveling with Bates. Ryan credited his detectives for logging long hours and tracking the alleged triggerman with little more than a nickname to begin their search.
“They were tenacious to say the least,” Ryan said.
Bates, 18, of Maywood, was shot multiple times as she sat in a car parked outside of 837 Dunlop. Authorities do not believe she was the intended target. Rather, she was caught in a hail of gunfire aimed at taking out the driver. Police have not identified the individual who was driving the car Bates was traveling in.
Topps and Bates’ companion belong to rival gangs, said Ryan, and have feuded before. In July 2008, Topps shot the same individual while he was driving on the Eisenhower Expressway.
“Our victim, it’s a tragedy,” Ryan said. “She definitely was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Police also believe they have figured out why Bates and her friends were traveling to Forest Park the night they were shot. According to Ryan, the boyfriend of a woman who recently moved into an upstairs apartment at the address was friends with the victims. Police said the boyfriend had not signed a lease for the property and was staying there unbeknownst to the landlord.
“That’s since been resolved,” Ryan said.