Plea deal for West Side graduation shooter in the works – Chicago Tribune


A plea deal is in the works for a teen charged in connection with the June 2022 shooting outside the Gary West Side graduation at the U.S. Steel Yard.

Joshua Hughes, 19, appeared before Judge Salvador Vasquez on Thursday. His attorney Andrew Kyres asked for a short continuance saying a plea deal is under negotiation and attorneys from both sides were trying to tweak the final details of the arrangement.

Hughes’ trial was expected to start Feb. 20 for his role in the shooting. Hughes was 17 when it occurred. He was charged with one count each of dangerous possession of a firearm, criminal recklessness, and two counts of battery while armed with a deadly weapon, all Level 5 felonies, according to Lake Superior Court records.

Nearly 200 students were scheduled to graduate during the June 2022 ceremony. Graduates and guests were exiting the stadium after the Sunday ceremony when shots erupted outside the stadium. Gary Police responded to a call for assistance from the Gary Community School Corporation’s head of security because a fight had broken out as people were leaving the graduation ceremonies at around 5:32 p.m. Witness accounts indicated a fight broke out in the stands during earlier activities.

Once the deal is hammered out, it will need the approval of Chief Deputy Prosecutor Barb O’Connell who is overseeing the case, Kyres said.

“Is the state open to renegotiation of terms?” Vasquez asked.

Vasquez said that while it certainly is not his desire, nor his policy, to put off a trial when it is this close to the actual court date, if the prosecutor’s office and defense are in agreement a deal soon will be forthcoming, he would do so.

Court documents allege Hughes and another teen were both in caps and gowns when they allegedly fired shots back toward “several individuals” across the street from the U.S. Steel Yard at 5th Avenue and Maryland Street, according to the probable cause affidavit.

A person in “dark clothing” wearing a mask had walked up to them in Lot B on the stadium’s east side and opened fire, security footage showed, according to court documents.

Multiple people took cover behind cars as the ceremony let out, according to the records. A woman, 19, was shot in the lower leg, while a second man, 19, was hit once in the upper right chest.

Hughes has previously appeared in juvenile court where he was adjudicated Dec. 2, 2021 for dangerous possession of a firearm.

The expected date to enter the plea is March 14.

Meredith Colias-Pete contributed.


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