CALUMET PARK, Ill. – Eight years after he was wrongly accused as the nation's youngest murder suspect that led to a $2 million settlement with the city of Chicago, the teenager is facing a new charge as an adult in a double shooting in a south suburb.
Romarr Gipson, now 15, and his stepbrother, Roman Foreman, 18, were caught on video surveillance as they approached a parked car Wednesday at a gas station, then opened fire with handguns, said Calumet Park Cmdr. Mel Davis.
"He turned around and looked at the camera with a gun in his hand," Davis said. "It doesn't get any clearer than that."
The two teens, charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, appeared in court on Sunday, when Cook County Judge Frank Castiglione set bail at $500,000.
Cook County state's attorney spokesman John Gorman said they were represented by public defenders. The public defender's office did not immediately return a telephone call Sunday.
The teenager has not given a statement to police because his mother is "concerned for his safety and wanted to be in the room with him while he was being questioned," Mel Davis said.
Davis said the boys knew the victims in the gas station shooting.
"The whole case seems to revolve around something that happened several years ago in Chicago with a female," he said.
The shooting happened around noon Wednesday at a gas station. The victims were parked in a car at the station when the 15-year-old allegedly approached the driver's side door and his brother approached the passenger's side, each holding handguns, the police chief said.
One of the shooting victims, whose name was not released, was on a breathing machine at an area hospital, Davis said. The other victim, also not identified, was treated and released for a bullet wound in the leg.
In 1998, a 7-year-old Gipson and another boy, then 8, were accused in the death of 11-year-old Ryan Harris, making them the youngest murder suspects in the nation at the time. It took almost a month before they were cleared in the killing after tests showed semen on the girl's clothing could not have come from the children.
DNA tests later led prosecutors to charge Floyd Durr, a convicted sex offender, who pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to life in prison.
A lawsuit subsequently filed by the boy's family against the city of Chicago was settled last year.
His arrest in Calumet Park was first reported Saturday by the Chicago Sun-Times. Police there have approached Gipson's case with caution because of his history with the Harris case, Davis said, adding that his mother was present when he was questioned for about two hours.
Gipson is enrolled in a private therapeutic-based school and still suffers psychologically from the arrest in Harris' murder, Jan Susler of the People's Law Office, which represented him in his civil lawsuit.
"This child never got a fair chance," Susler told the Chicago Tribune. "In the computer, every time they pick up this child for sneezing it will always say this child was picked up for this awful, awful crime."
Gipson and Foreman are next scheduled to appear in court July 6 for a preliminary hearing, Gorman said.