CHICAGO - Chicago police on Wednesday announced murder charges against a man allegedly involved in the August shooting that killed a 7-year-old girl and wounded her sister on the Northwest Side.
Aireon Luster, 24, was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder following the Aug. 15 death of Serenity Broughton.
Luster was one of two gunmen who got out of a car in an alley in the 6200 block of West Grand Avenue and began shooting, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan alleged Wednesday. Serenity’s mother was putting her and her sister Aubrey, 6, in a parked car when gunfire erupted.
Serenity was struck in the chest and later died at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Her younger sister was hit in the chest and armpit but survived.
A relative of the girls was believed to be the target of the shooting, Deenihan said.
Luster and the other gunman got back in the car, where a getaway driver was waiting, and left the scene, he said.
"We’re still asking for the public’s help," Deenihan said, as police try to locate the other two suspects "We’re asking for more information because we believe that, you know, the public knows these other two individuals who are probably associated with Luster and are a part of it."
Regina Broughton, the girls’ grandmother, said Wednesday evening that she was "elated" to hear the news that someone was charged in connection with her granddaughter’s death. She said her son called her Wednesday evening about two hours before the Chicago Police Department’s news conference.
Aireon Luster and Serenity Broughton
Broughton relayed the news to Aubrey, telling her "they caught the [guy] who hurt you, they caught the [guy] who did this to you and took Serenity away."
Aubrey responded by saying "OK" in a soft, coy tone and clapping her hands.
"I feel like my family are one step closer to getting justice," Broughton said. "I feel like the justice system is working for us."
The news comes a little over two weeks after the Sun-Times reported on a conflict with charging a suspect, setting off an extraordinary chain of events earlier that veteran court observers believe is unprecedented in recent history.
A high-ranking Chicago police commander, frustrated Cook County prosecutors initially rejected charging a suspect in the fatal shooting, went to a judge to have the suspect held in custody for longer and circumvent prosecutors to charge the man with murder and attempted murder. Hours later, top police brass reversed course — persuading the judge to essentially "uncharge" the suspect.
Deenihan confirmed that Luster was the person whom prosecutors initially rejected charges for.
"What’s changed is we work with the State’s Attorney’s office to ensure we did a complete and thorough investigation, and we work together to get to get the defendant charged," he said.
A spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.
Broughton said her family was feeling "down" after charges were initially rejected.
"We were feeling like there would be no justice and they came through," Broughton said.
Now, after a draining two months, Broughton said her family feels like a large weight has been lifted off of them.
"The trial will be a long time coming, but I’m looking forward to it," Broughton said. "I feel like a little bit of closure and justice has been served."
Luster is due in court Thursday.