EVANSTON, IL — A minivan driving around Evanston with no lights on last month led to the discovery of a rifle, a pistol and various drugs, police reported. Prosecutors approved felony charges against two of the four people in the van, including a convicted murderer released on parole last year.
Three Evanston Police Department detectives in an unmarked car spotted a silver Dodge Caravan with no lights driving southbound on Ashland Avenue at Payne Street around 8 p.m. on Aug. 20, according to their report. They pulled over the van in a parking lot of the Walgreens at 2100 Green Bay Road.
Police said they noticed a “nugget of a green leafy substance” on the floorboard of the car and conducted a search. Detectives said the loose suspected cannabis and the smell of fresh marijuana coming from the van indicated its occupants were “consuming open cannabis” while driving.
Derell Pruitt, 22, of the 1000 block of North Sheridan Road, Waukegan, was the front seat passenger, according to police. Police said he had two satchel-type bags near his feet.
Antoine Hill, 34, of the 1700 block of Payne Street, Evanston, was one of the back seat passengers in the minivan, according to police reports. While speaking to the officers, he was leaning into the center console area, a detective said.
Detectives reported finding an unspecified amount of cocaine, heroin and marijuana during a search of the van. An Evanston police spokesperson declined to provide any information about the alleged drugs. They also found an AR-15 style rifle in the center console and a pistol in one of the two satchels in the front passenger floorboard.
According to police reports, footage captured by Evanston Police Department surveillance cameras in the 1700 block of Payne Street shows Hill walk out from an alley on the east side of Darrow Avenue holding a trash bag.
“Hill then begins to manipulate the bag,” Det. Dan Rosenbaum reported, “and visible through the plastic is the outline of what appears to be an assault rifle.”
Video shows Hill getting into the van minutes before the detectives pulled it over, according to Rosenbaum.
Hill was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2006 after fatally shooting Robert Gresham at the defunct bar The Keg the year before. In July 2013, about nine months after he was released on parole, he was charged with illegal gun possession by a felon after fleeing Evanston police in the 1800 block of Hovland Court. Hill picked up a 12-year sentence and was paroled in February 2019, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Following the discovery of the rifle, Hill was charged with armed habitual criminal, a class X felony, and misdemeanor counts of possession of a firearm and ammunition without a firearm owners identification card. He was also charged with a probation violation, according to police. As of Monday, he remained held at Cook County Jail with no bail ahead of his next court appearance Thursday.
Pruitt was charged with felony counts of armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon, possession of between 1 and 15 grams of cocaine with an intent to deliver, three counts of possession of a controlled substance — one of hydrocodone and two of unspecified amounts of unspecified narcotics — and misdemeanor counts of possession of a firearm, ammunition and cannabis, police reported.
Three days after his arrest, Priott posted the $1,000 cash portion of his bail and was released with electronic home monitoring, according to the sheriff’s office.
A 21-year-old Des Plaines man who was behind the wheel of the minivan at the time of the incident was issued citations for unlawful possession of open of cannabis in a motor vehicle and driving with no lights on, police reported.
All three men were also ticketed for not wearing seat belts, according to police. A woman in the van with them was released without charges after being questioned by police.
As part of the investigation, detectives also brought five handguns from the evidence locker to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offices at the Chicago Police Department’s Homan Square facility for test firing. ATF staff told police that results of the testing would be available within 24 hours, police reported. Police reports provided to Patch in response to a public records request do not indicate the results of the tests, although a police spokesperson said all rifles and pistols go for comparison if the recovery is criminal in nature.