Reputed gang member charged with triple shooting in Humboldt Park, gunning down rival in hair salon

Ishmael Simpson | Chicago police

A reputed gang member suspected of gunning down a rival in a Lawndale hair salon last year was arrested this week after he was implicated in a triple shooting in Humboldt Park, according to Cook County prosecutors.

Ishmael Simpson initially came under police scrutiny following a shooting at Hair Trendsetters Beauty and Barber Shop at 3612 W. 16th St. on April 16, 2021, Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher Nugarus said at a bond hearing Tuesday.

Simpson, 24, stormed into the business that evening and repeatedly shot Jawon Ward as he sat near the door, Nugarus said. When Ward fell to the floor, Simpson’s accomplice ducked inside and fired more shots.

Ward, 18, pulled out his own gun and accidentally shot a customer in the shop, Nugarus said. Ward and the other victim, a 44-year-old woman, were both taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he died and she was listed in good condition, police said at the time.

The shooting was captured on the shop’s surveillance video, and 15 shell casings were recovered from the three guns, Nugarus said.

Simpson was seen on video wearing "distinct clothing," including jeans with paint splashes, a hooded sweatshirt with a white rectangle that was pulled over his head, a COVID mask and "Yeezy-style shoes" — an apparent reference to rapper and designer Kanye West’s footwear brand.

Cameras outside the store captured a black sedan creeping down an alley before the shooting and showed Simpson wearing the same outfit and a "unique lanyard," Nugarus said.

Simpson and the other shooter were seen walking from the alley down toward the shop, then fleeing in the same direction before the sedan was shown speeding down the alley, Nugaras said.

Detectives learned he was arrested two days later in an unrelated felony gun case, according to Nugarus and court records. Body-worn camera footage from the arrest showed he was wearing the same jeans, shoes and lanyard, as did photos recovered from his cellphone.

In extracting the cellphone data, detectives found five videos and images of Ward that were taken between Aug. 13, 2020, and April 11, 2021 — just days before the slaying, according to the prosecutor.


Perhaps most damning, Nugarus said, Simpson had a page of Ward’s grand jury testimony against one of his gang associates.

Simpson wasn’t arrested in Ward’s slaying until Sunday evening, when he and three other people were caught on video emerging from a vehicle and opening fire on another group in the 3300 block of West Ohio Street, Nugarus said.

Bystanders ran for cover, and a child crouched to avoid the shots as the gunmen walked by.

Three people were wounded and roughly 67 shell casings were found at the scene, Nugarus said. Simpson fired at one of the people who was wounded, then kicked the victim.

Officers saw him toss a Glock handgun before he was taken into custody, Nugarus said. Jerome Turnage, 19, was also arrested. The two other shooters scaled a fence and hopped into a waiting car that fled. None of the victims cooperated with police.

Simpson was charged with both attacks after he was arrested this week. It’s not clear why he wasn’t arrested sooner.

Simpson has been charged with felony counts of first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon and misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, court records show.

Turnage was charged with aggravated discharge, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

Both men are felons. Simpson was on parole at the time of his arrest, while Turnage was free on bond. Simpson has previous felony convictions for illegal gun possession and aggravated robbery and was sentenced to two and four years, respectively.

Simpson’s public defender, Ryan Carlsen, sought to poke holes in the evidence presented in both shootings.

Carlsen argued that cellphone data doesn’t place his client at the scene of the murder when it happened, only at times around the shooting. He also questioned the claims about the clothing his client was wearing, specifically contending that "Kanye West shoes" and splattered jeans aren’t unique and insisting there was no indication Simpson was wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

The gun Simpson allegedly used wasn’t recovered, according to Carlsen, who claimed it’s unclear whether Ward drew his gun first. He also insisted that witnesses haven’t identified him as a shooter in Sunday’s attack, and only officers saw him toss the gun.

But Judge Susana Ortiz insisted the circumstantial evidence was "persuasive" as she ordered him held without bail. Turnage’s bail was set at $250,000. Both men are expected in court on Oct. 24.