Seventeen-year-old who was killed was a detainee at the facility for less than a month, chief says

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Springfield Police Chief is disclosing more details on Saturday’s active shooter incident at the Sangamon County Juvenile Detention Center.

Springfield Police Chief Ken Scarlette said Tuesday that a 17-year-old detainee at the facility had managed to get a gun, and was attempting to escape the facility.

“Let’s be very clear as the the chief of the Springfield police department, had measures been in place, my officer may have not been put in a situation where he had to use deadly force,” Scarlette said.

Scarlette spoke to reporters after personally reviewing body camera video and video from inside the facility. He said he intends to release the video to the public soon, but so far, no video has been released by Springfield Police, Sangamon County or the Illinois State Police.

Scarlette said a veteran officer on the force, and a new recruit that the other officer was training responded to the scene, along with one other Springfield officer, and a Rochester police officer.

“The caller indicated that there were shots fired in the facility,” Scarlette said. “The caller indicated that they believed that a person inside had been struck, and the caller indicated that the suspect claimed he was going to kill the hostage if not released. That’s the information that was relayed to do all of our officers responded.”

Scarlette said his officers found the 17-year-old suspect at the front door, and that he had a hostage. Scarlette said the confrontation ended with the veteran officer shooting the suspect with multiple rounds from his department issued AR-15. The suspect died later at the hospital from the injuries.

As our officers arrived, and we’re we’re heading towards the entrance, the front door swung open as the suspect was attempting to come out of an injury. So that’s sort of how they met,” Scarlette said. “There there are no shots fired from the suspect, outside the facility, I should say.”

Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon said Tuesday he will be keeping the identity of the teenager confidential while the investigation into the incident continues.
But Scarlette did confirm that he was being detained at the facility.

“It’s my understanding the the suspect could have been detained in the (Juvenile Detention Center) since September,” Scarlette said.

He said his officers have his full support, and there will be no disciplinary actions taken by the department. The Springfield officers that responded to the scene are currently on restricted duty.

The Illinois State Police are investigating, and they will eventually pass along their findings to Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright, who will make the final call on if charges are necessary.

Scarlette shared the information he knew about the incident with city council members Tuesday in a closed door meeting. Even though Scarlette is being forthcoming with this information, city leaders still have questions going forward.

“The biggest question is what are most constituents and how does an individual get a weapon inside a facility like that,” Ward 3 Alderman Roy Williams said. “And because it’s not our city’s facility or anything we don’t know yet.”

When asked if they are aware of how a person who was being held at the facility was able to get a gun, the county directed questions to the State Police.

However, the county did answer a few questions from WCIA. The county Director of Probation and Court Services Kent Holsopple, who also serves as the director of that facility confirmed that the one other person who was injured was another juvenile detainee. Scarlette said the injured female detainee suffered a “minor” injury above the leg. That person was treated and released for their injuries. No county employees were injured.

The remaining people being held at the facility were transferred to a different juvenile detention center, according to Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell. He would not say where they were taken due to safety reasons, since they are all juveniles. The Sangamon County Facility is currently shut down, and Holsopple said in a statement that “safety is a top priority” and there is no timetable for the facility reopening.