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UPDATED 07/13/12 11:33 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – A teenager claims he is innocent, but turned himself in anyway in connection with the shooting of two middle school-age girls in the West Pullman neighborhood.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, as of 11 a.m., police were still questioning Jermaine Lewis, 18. But Lewis’ attorneys say his choice to surrender at the Calumet Area police headquarters does not mean he committed the crime.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
Rather, one Roseland CeaseFire member reported, Lewis “he had two choices – either to end up in a body bag or be here at a police station.”
On Thursday, Lewis walked into the police station, at 727 E. 111th St., surrounded by his family, attorney and members of CeaseFire – an anti-violence group.
Lewis’ attorney, Carl Boyd, claims Lewis and his family feared retaliation. They say they threatened several times and they were concerned for their safety.
Suddenly around 7:45 p.m., shots rang out, and both girls were hit.
“She got hit and she just kept going,” said Nakia’s uncle, Cory Henderson. “She didn’t have any time to stop. You know, she panicked.”
Tishona suffered a gunshot wound to the upper leg, and was released from Roseland Community Hospital Wednesday morning. She attended a community meeting on Wednesday night with her mother making a plea to find the shooter.
Nakia suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was being treated at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
But Lewis’ attorney says he is not the shooter, even though he turned himself in.
“We believe that the crime is not consistent with the character of Mr. Jermaine Lewis,” Boyd said. “Jermaine is an usher in the All Nations United Baptist Church. He is a high school student. This is an unfortunate case of mistaken identity “
The very reason Lewis turned himself in was that he had been in danger, his attorneys said..
“Mr. Lewis’s family contacted our office because of the concern that we had for his safety,” the attorney said. “The minute he was informed and apprised that he might be wanted for questioning, he presented himself to me and we immediately surrendered him to the authorities.”
So what is the next step?
“At anytime it could switch one way or the other. You’ve got to make sure the family is safe; make sure their relatives; make sure the victims and their families are comfortable, and understanding that the law do what the law do,” said Bob Jackson of Roseland CeaseFire.
When WBBM Newsradio asked Jackson if he is convinced that the group’s intervention prevented a retaliatory shooting, he said, “I’m not convinced, I’m positive.”
Roseland CeaseFire is not one of the branches of the group that has been awarded $1 million by the City of Chicago in an attempt to prevent shootings, starting Friday. CeaseFire is controversial because of its methods and because of its use of ex-offenders to try to prevent violence.