Prosecutors: Lavert Pitts fatally shot Monte Tillman at Austin car wash

Lavert Pitts / Photo from Chicago Police
Lavert Pitts / Photo from Chicago Police

Sun-Times Media

A West Side man currently in federal custody for bank robbery now faces murder charges in the May shooting death of Monte Tillman.

Lavert Pitts, 24, of the 4800 block of West Gladys Avenue, was charged with first-degree murder in the May 26 shooting death of Tillman in the 5200 block of West Lake Street, authorities said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Mack said Pitts walked up to a car wash with his hand in his pocket and shook hands with Tillman.

When Tillman turned his back to talk with somebody in a nearby car, Pitts pulled out a handgun and shot Tillman in the back, Mack said.

After being shot, Tillman ran to the back of a vehicle parked on the street and returned fire, Mack said.

The two continued to exchange gunfire until Pitts fled in a vehicle, Mack said.

Tillman, 33, of the 1100 block of Thomas Avenue in Forest Park, died about an hour later at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, authorities said.

Tillman’s cousin, the Rev. Ezra Tillman of First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Flint, Mich., said Monte Tillman got involved in Chicago’s gang culture and the family was “hurt but not shocked” to learn of his death.

“He was clear that was what his world was to him. In the circle he was in, the people he had around, I guess he had love and support,” Ezra Tillman said. “He felt he was safe.”

Monte Tillman / Photo from Facebook

Monte Tillman / Photo from Facebook

The shooting was captured on surveillance video and multiple witnesses identified Pitts as the shooter, Mack said.

In a videotaped statement, Pitts admitted shooting Tillman and boasted the killing “wasn’t no tit for tat, that’s the thing, if you shoot one of mines [sic] and don’t kill, I’m coming back killing one of yours, this ain’t a war until you send the shots, and it ain’t gonna be a war because by the time you send the shots you be dead.”

He also admitted to disposing of the murder weapon, Mack said.

Judge James Brown ordered Pitts, who is currently in federal custody for a band robbery he committed three days later, held without bond.

He will be back in court on the murder charges Jan. 7.

— Contributing: Susan Du

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