Police process the scene of a crash at Austin Boulevard and Harrison Street in Oak Park, where a car reportedly involved in a shooting earlier on Oct. 1 in Austin crashed into a van at 10:45 a.m. The driver of the van sustained non-life threatening injuries. Police arrested a suspect, who'd fled from the crash scene, a few blocks away in Oak Park. | Photo by Stacey Sheridan

A vehicle crash at the intersection of Austin Boulevard and Harrison Street on the morning of Oct. 1 and a subsequent manhunt that resulted in the arrest of one man by Oak Park police was connected to a shootout between rival gang members in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago a short time earlier.

However, all five men allegedly involved in the shootout in the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue – including the suspect apprehended in Oak Park — were released from custody, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Oct. 4, after prosecutors said police provided insufficient evidence to support felony charges of first-degree murder and aggravated battery.

One suspect was a man who fled the scene of the shooting in a Dodge Charger that collided with a van in Oak Park during a police pursuit. The collision left the driver of the van with what paramedics characterized as non-life-threatening injuries, according to Oak Park spokesman David Powers.

After the Dodge Charger collided with the van, the driver fled the scene on foot but was later caught in the 700 block of Lyman Avenue in Oak Park with the help of a Chicago Police Department police dog, Powers told Wednesday Journal.

“Oak Park police were not involved in a pursuit and will not be part of the original incident investigation but will investigate the traffic accident since it occurred within their jurisdiction,” said Powers.

As of Oct. 5 it was unclear whether Oak Park police had charged the man they apprehended with any crime. The incident does not appear on any police activity report issued by Oak Park police during the Oct.1-4 time period.

According to the Sun-Times, citing an internal police report and an unnamed law enforcement official, the shooting resulted from an internal rift between two offshoots of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang.

The shootout, which took place at about 10:30 a.m., left one person dead and two wounded, according to the Sun-Times story.

The Chicago newspaper reported that the unnamed source had said police wanted to charge the five suspects with two felonies each, including first-degree murder and aggravated battery, but all five were released Oct. 3 after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office determined there wasn’t enough evidence to charge them.

By evening on Oct. 4, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and allied West Side aldermen issued public complaints regarding the suspects’ release, while Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended the prosecutors’ decision.

When asked for confirmation and comment, a Chicago Police Department media representative pointed Wednesday Journal to the Media Major Incident Notifications (MINS) portal, stating that was all the information available. The incident information obtained through MINS provided far less detail than the Sun-Times but corroborated much of its reporting. The MINS information made no mention of gangs.

The Sun-Times reported that more than 70 shell casings at the scene of the shooting on Mason Avenue. The Sun-Times’ story names the Body Snatchers and Jack Boys as the two warring factions of the Four Corners Hustlers.

The incident information released on the MINS portal stated that four offenders got out of two vehicles and started firing at the house on Mason Avenue.

According to MINS, two victims from the house were struck and transported to a local hospital and one adult male, one adult female and a juvenile were safely removed from the residence. The man who was killed was with the group that drove to the scene and fired at the house.

The MINS report, stated that one of the two vehicles used by the alleged offenders was later found torched near Lockwood and Chicago avenues. The other was used to drop off a gunshot victim at West Suburban Hospital Medical Center in Oak Park, where the car was seen by local police, according to the Sun-Times, which aligns with the information released through NIMS.

After a brief chase, the driver of the Dodge Charger collided with the van at Austin Boulevard and Harrison Street. The impact of the collision pushed the van off of the roadway and into the light pole on the southwest corner of the intersection.

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