(CBS) – Zion police say a 17-year-old suspect fatally shot by an officer over the weekend was in possession of a handgun he had just wrestled away from another person.
Justus Howell of Waukegan died Saturday after a police foot chase in a Zion neighborhood. Officers were responding to reports of a fight, and a gun was found on the scene, police said previously.
On Monday, Zion Police Chief Steve Dumyahn released a 1 ½-page statement to the media following published reports that the Lake County coroner said Howell died from gunshot wounds to the back.
Dumyahn said the pathologist who did Howell’s autopsy has not issued the final report or given it to independent investigators with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.
“Until that official report is completed it is impossible to accurately comment on any of the pathologist’s findings,” the police chief said
Family members have indicated they think Howell was unarmed and wrongly shot by police. But Dumyahn says the subsequent arrest of an 18-year-old suspect sheds light on the circumstances.
Tramond Peet of Lindenhurst told police he met Howell in the 2300 block of Gilead Saturday to sell him a handgun. Howell attempted to take the handgun, and fought with Peet for the weapon, causing it to discharge, the police statement issued Monday said.
Around that time, squad cars arrived on the scene. Peet told police he saw officers running after Howell, who still had the handgun with him, and “heard the officers giving Howell commands” before hearing gunshots.
“The Zion Police Department has no desire to defame the deceased and cause further pain to the family of Justus Howell,” Chief Dumyahn said. “At the same time we are aware of the public’s need to know.”
Peet is being held on $15,000 bond for two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, police said.
The officer involved in the shooting is a 32-year-old male with nine years’ experience on the force, the news release said. He is on paid administrative leave.