Trial in double murder to dwell on gang war
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com September 4, 2013 8:16PM
Updated: October 7, 2013 12:59PM
Violence is escalating between two Joliet street gangs, the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples, with a long history of fighting, according to police.
They said the gangs are well-known enemies nationwide. And the clash locally between their members has led to the majority of gang-related homicides in Joliet over the past four years, according to court records.
Authorities believe the gang war led to a confrontation that ended with two teens shot to death in October after they decided to hang out in rival gang territory.
The teenagers — DeLasse Lanier, 18, and Adrian Knox, 17 — may not have been members of the Vice Lords, police said, but they had a lot of friends and associates who were members.
The teenager accused of shooting them, Sjolante Crowder, had told police that he was a Gangster Disciple, according to the file in Crowder’s murder case.
Crowder, who will turn 19 on Sept. 23, is scheduled to stand trial this month in Joliet for the double murder.
Will County prosecutors have asked Circuit Court Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak to allow testimony from a Joliet police sergeant who is an expert on street gangs and who believes the shootings were gang-related. Bertani-Tomczak is scheduled to issue her decision Sept. 11.
Police say Crowder shot and killed Knox and Lanier on Oct. 23 and tried to kill a 19-year-old man who suffered a gunshot wound.
About 7 p.m. that day, several people were gathered around a Jeep Cherokee parked in the 700 block of Second Avenue when they saw a vehicle drive slowly by them, according to court records.
They indicate that soon after the vehicle passed, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt walked up and started shooting.
As the group scattered, Knox collapsed in a driveway on the other side of the street, and Lanier ran inside a house on the block and collapsed, police said.
Lanier and Knox were taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, where Lanier died in the emergency room at 7:27 p.m. and Knox died 20 minutes later.
The 19-year-old man who was shot drove himself to Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was treated for non-life threatening wounds.
Police arrested Crowder the next day in the 200 block of Richards Street. He faces two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder and is being held in the county jail in lieu of $7 million bail.
A day after his arrest, Crowder told a judge he didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t know anything about the killings.
A witness to the shooting told police that Crowder belonged to an East Side gang, and Lanier and Knox were from the Forest Park neighborhood known as “the Hill,” court records show. The gangs clash, the witness said, adding that “the Hill” guys should not have been down on the “South End,” according to the case file.