Almighty Saints Gang Leader Charged in Shooting of ATF Agent

(WLS) The co-leader of a Southwest Side street gang was charged Tuesday in last week’s shooting of an ATF agent in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.

Federal sources told the I-Team Tuesday morning the suspect was in custody. The I-Team later learned the suspect is Ernesto “Ernie” Godinez, co-leader of the Almighty Saints. He was arrested around 7 p.m. Monday, after he turned himself in.

According to the Chicago Police Department, 27-year-old Godinez has been arrested three times within the past two years on gang-related charges. His most recent arrest was July 30, 2017.

The U.S. attorney in Chicago told the I-Team Godinez would make a court appearance at 11 a.m. Tuesday. There was a tremendous show of force in the U.S. District Court. At least 65 federal agents were in the courtroom, along with Celinez Nunez, special agent in charge of the Chicago field division, and the wounded agent’s parents.

Godinez was charged with forcible assault of a special agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms while on duty while using a dangerous weapon. He faces 20 years in prison.

The government sought to hold him without bond. His next hearing, which will determine bond, is scheduled for 11 a.m. on May 17.

Court documents said undercover law enforcement agents were covertly replacing a court-approved tracking device on a vehicle at the time of the shooting. The ATF agent tasked with replacing the device was walking south near West 44th Street and South Hermitage Avenue at 3:18 a.m. Friday, when he was shot in the face.

At least three cameras captured video of what happened in the area during that time: a law-enforcement camera, a private surveillance camera in an alley and a police observational device (pod) camera.

A Shot Spotter sensor, technology utilized by the CPD that identifies the time and location of gunshots, and law enforcement at the scene said approximately seven shots were fired. The agent suffered gunshot wounds to the nose and cheek and was rushed by fellow law enforcement to Stroger Hospital.

Prosecutors who reviewed all the surveillance footage said the suspect was the only person seen in the area at the time of the shooting.

For several days, law enforcement agents descended on Back of the Yards, conducting raids and searching for the gunman.

“I got a message for them, we’re coming for you,” CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

A $61,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest.

The agent remains hospitalized Tuesday, but is expected to make a full recovery.

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