Prosecutor: Fatal shooting of cop’s son Arshell Dennis III last year was case of mistaken identity by gang members

Chicago Sun-Times

Anthony M. Moore | Chicago Police

Anthony M. Moore | Chicago Police

A Cook County judge on Saturday denied bail for a teen accused of fatally shooting Arshell Dennis III, the son of a Chicago Police sergeant last summer, just before he was to return to college.

Anthony M. Moore, 18, of the 7900 block of South Sawyer, appeared before Judge Donald Panarese, charged with first-degree murder in the death of Dennis, a journalism major at St. John’s University in New York. His father, Sgt. Arshell Dennis, once served with CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson as a patrol officer in the Gresham District.

The younger Dennis, known as “Trey,” was entering his junior year at St. John’s and was home visiting his family prior to the new school year when he was shot and killed last summer.

The 19-year-old was shot to death and a friend wounded while they sat on the porch of his parents’ South Side home on Aug. 14.

Moore is also charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Dennis’ 20-year-old friend, who was hit in the arm and chest.

Arshell Dennis III | photo provided

Arshell Dennis III | photo provided

Authorities said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity, and said Moore believed Dennis and his friends were members of the Quiet Money faction of the Gangster Disciples. None of the victims were involved in gangs, according to prosecutors and detectives.

About midnight, Moore and fellow gang members in the M.O.B. faction of the Gangster Disciples drove in two vehicles up to the Dennis family home in Wrightwood, assistant state’s attorney John Maher said.

The two vehicles pulled into an alley behind the home and sent an unknown gang member to scout Dennis and his friends on the porch, Maher said. That gang member then rejoined the group.

Moore and another M.O.B. faction member, who has not been charged, got out of their vehicle and walked from the alley through a gangway about two houses east of where Dennis and his friends were standing, Maher said.

Moore began firing a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun; Dennis was struck in the armpit and fell immediately, Maher said. After a second shooter opened fire, Dennis’ friend also was struck. The shooters returned to their vehicles and drove off together.

A classmate at St. John’s posted this video of Dennis on YouTube.

Authorities said Moore made statements to other people admitting his role in the killing; they said he said he shot first and bragged that he had killed an opposing gang member. Police said they were able to track the stolen vehicles with surveillance videos. The videos and “phone-data evidence” helped link Moore to the crime, police said.

Moore was already being held in the Cook County Jail, charged with possession of a stolen vehicle for swiping a Toyota Camry in southwest suburban Justice. On Jan. 6, Moore was charged with violating electronic monitoring the month before, according to court documents. He has been arrested six times since turning 18 in November, police said.

He also was arrested 11 times as a juvenile, starting in 2014. Those cases included robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a source said.

Moore’s attorney said his client was invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to discuss the case. He was the oldest child of five, who lives with his aunt in Chicago and often visits his mother in Gary, Indiana, on the weekends. At one point, he had hoped to go to trade school to become an electrician or plumber.

Maher called Moore “a threat to the community” and asked Judge Panarese to deny bond. He said prosecutors believe Moore could face a life sentence.

Members of Dennis’ family and supporters declined to comment after leaving the hearing on Saturday.

Maher said the case was still being investigated, and more charges could be brought.

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