Victim in Oak Park shooting was federal informant

Federal complaint describes shooters, victims all living within blocks of each other on Austin Blvd.

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By Jean Lotus

Forest Park Review Editor

The 36-year-old man who survived after receiving a shot to the shoulder at point blank range in the parking lot behind 464 N. Austin Blvd. on April 2 was a federal informant who had been warned by agents not to return to his Oak Park apartment.  A criminal complaint against the gunman was filed April 4 by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. The incident was the second shooting in two weeks at the 22-unit apartment building. 

The alleged shooter, Kelsey Jones, 35, also known as "Little Mo" was arrested April 5. His home was only two blocks away from the victim's at 653 N. Austin Blvd. in Chicago, according to the complaint. Jones was charged with attempting to kill the victim with intent to retaliate for providing information about the commission of a Federal offense. 

The complaint describes a botched months-long ATF cocaine and weapons sting taking place just outside the eastern border of Oak Park in the Austin neighborhood. 

The goal of the sting was to apprehend Toby Jones, a bald, bearded member of the Vice Lords street gang in his 30s also known as "Big Red." The informant told the feds Jones employed a group of underlings to sell crack cocaine and illegally possessed firearms on the West Side of Chicago. Toby Jones was convicted of conspiracy to distribute narcotics in 2002 and served several years in prison. He was on supervised federal release until March 2014.

The informant also identified one of Toby Jones's employees, Lesley Fields, known as "Little Red." 

According to the complaint the victim -- identified as "CI" for confidential informant -- accompanied an undercover agent from the ATF over several months, gaining Big Red's trust making crack cocaine purchases. The informant/victim also helped broker the swap of eight firearms in exchange for crack cocaine. 

Between December and March, the agent and informant met Big Red (Toby Jones) and Little Red (Fields) several times for controlled purchases of crack cocaine, near the intersection of Race Avenue and Madison Street. At one point the agent handed Big Red $2,200 wrapped in a McDonald's wrapper in exchange for 24 individually wrapped "jabs" of crack cocaine. 

The agent and informant also showed Big Red and Little Red a photo of a selection of firearms. Big Red expressed interest in purchasing a Glock handgun with an extended magazine that could hold 30 rounds, the complaint said. On Feb. 4, the agent and informant agreed to swap six "jabs" of crack cocaine in exchange for the Glock. 

Little Red (Fields) allegedly offered to swap cocaine for all eight of the weapons.

 "You can bring all that s----," Fields told the agent by phone. 

"Bring like five or six [firearms] and we gonna take all those m------s off your hands." 

The agent and informant strung Toby Jones and Fields along for several drug purchases, showing up without the guns and making excuses that the agent's "guy" had not made arrangements to procure the weapons. 

"My fault, man," the agent told Toby Jones on Feb. 26. "I ain't even had time to do that s---, man."

Finally, on March 26, agents and the informant agreed to meet Big Red [Toby Jones], Little Red [Fields] and two other men, identified as "Individual A" and "Individual B" at a grocery store on the Southside of Chicago to exchange cocaine for weapons. 

But Big Red did not show up, and abruptly ceased answering his cell phone, communicating only by text. 

The three remaining men arrived in the grocery store parking lot and examined the weapons. Fields told the agent he wanted to buy the Glock and selected a Beretta for Toby Jones. Individuals A and B selected four guns, and agreed to take them and come back with cocaine to trade. 

Agents arrested all three men on the spot, and put out a warrant for Big Red, Toby Jones.

The next day, March 27, two gunmen arrived at the Oak Park apartment building, home of the informant, at 464 N. Austin Blvd. and chased a 22-year-old man through the hallway until he ran into his grandmother's apartment. According to a village statement, they pounded on the door and then shot the man through the door, wounding him in the leg.

"I have absolutely no evidence right now that the two shootings are related," said Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley Wednesday. No arrests have been made in the March 27 shooting. 

When asked if the two shootings were related, Special Agent Thomas Ahern of the ATF said Department of Justice rules prevented him from commenting on any investigation other than the information found in the complaint. 

On April 2, according to the complaint, the informant returned to his apartment in the 464 building against the advice of special agents who wanted him to wait until Toby Jones was arrested.

The victim drove into the parking lot around 8:55 p.m. with his brother from Ottawa  in the passenger seat. He allegedly saw the defendant Kelsey Jones, or "Little Mo" exit a maroon minivan and approach the car. Jones removed what appeared to be a 9 mm handgun and started shooting at point blank range through the car window at the informant, wounding the victim in the shoulder and grazing the brother's head.  The two men were treated and released at West Suburban Hospital. 

According to the Federal complaint, two other men, "Individual C" and "Individual D" identified as the informant's "neighbors" were interviewed by federal agents. C and D both had phone numbers in their cell phones for Toby Jones, Lesley Fields and Kelsey Jones. The two interviewed told investigators they received phone calls from both Toby Jones and Kelsey Jones between March 27 and April 2. The Vice Lord leader and his underling both demanded the whereabouts of the victim from Individual C, the complaint said. 

Toby Jones told C and D that the victim was a "Fed" and that the informant had "set up" Fields. Cell phone records showed Kelsey Jones called both neighbors April 2, shortly before the victim was shot.

When asked if the "neighbors" also lived in the building at 464 N. Austin, Oak Park Police Chief Tanksley said it was possible they might live in another building or across the street.

The ATF's Ahern declined to confirm or deny whether C and D lived in the same building as the informant.

 "We don't like to give out identifying information," he said.

The building's landlord, Dan Vollman, did not immediately return calls Wednesday. 

In April, Vollman, whose offices are at 52 Chicago Avenue, said he runs a criminal background check on any potential tenant and doesn't rent to anyone with a felony conviction. He also mentioned in conversation that he had "a friend who was a Fed." 

Federal agents arrested Kelsey Jones on April 5 and took Toby Jones into custody April 22. Toby Jones was indicted for eight counts of distributing crack cocaine and one count of possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking.

The ATF requested an extension until June 4 to file the indictment for Kelsey Jones. He was denied bond and is being held in federal custody. 

Reader Comments

6 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

The Brad from OP  

Posted: May 20th, 2014 3:25 PM

Hmm. The story was removed. Ok

The Brad from OP  

Posted: May 20th, 2014 3:23 PM

Interesting that my comment was taken down. I was the first one here to post and basically said the investigation should begin with OP Police taking a look at all houses being rented within a one block radius. Not rocket science.

SMH from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 6:23 PM

Wow. Looks like someone tipped off Big Red that he was going to get nabbed. And three people got shot. And an Oak Park landlord is renting to people with gang affiliations? Glad I'm not in the witness protection program.

Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 11:43 AM

Good comments Hank - unlike the nastiness of some of the comments when the news first broke of the shootings.

Hank Marquardt from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 11:28 AM

I found this fascinating. 1. Violence is not as random as would appear. 2. The powers that be, from the locals to the Feds are trying to fight the problems. 3. It takes a long time to catch big fish and build a case. None of that is really breaking news, but when you see the backstory and what else is going on, the "Man Shot Behind Apartment" headline imparts little of value. Nice Job on the story, and yes, I agree with Chris ... could very well be a screenplay.

Chris Carrier  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 11:15 AM

Wow. I feel like I just read a Law & Order spec.

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