Western Springs police say that a fight following the conclusion of Lyons Township High School homecoming football game on Oct. 2 was the result of “gang-related issues” between a player from LTHS and one from that day’s opponent, Proviso West High School.
An unknown number of players were involved in the fight and no one was hurt, but police did end up arresting two men who police say tried to enter a black 2011 Chrysler 200 sedan where officers recovered a pair of Glock 9 mm pistols with extended magazines.
Prior to the release of the police report, obtained by the Landmark through a Freedom of Information request, school and police officials had referred to the altercation as a “large physical fight” or “physical altercation” between unspecified people at the game. The police report clarifies that the fight principally involved two players.
The police report also indicates that officers were not responding to a call reporting a fight but from someone believing two people at the scene were possibly armed. Those two people, according to the police report had been seen by the witness putting on black skulls caps and walking toward the football field from the parking lot.
Two police officers responding to the South Campus, 4900 S. Willow Springs Road, reported locating two men matching the description given by the witness approaching a black Chrysler 200 parked in the school’s north lot.
After learning the altercation on the field stemmed from a gang-related dispute, the police officers armed themselves with rifles and ordered the campus placed on soft lockdown.
When the two suspects attempted to enter the vehicle, police ordered them to stop and approach police with their hands showing. The two men, identified as Demitrus R. Ross, 19, of Harvey, and Donny J. Starkes II, 19, of Blue Island, were detained without further incident.
Western Springs police reported looking inside the black Chrysler and seeing two black handguns with extended magazines, in plain view, one under the driver’s seat and one under the passenger seat. Police later obtained a search warrant and recovered the guns from inside the car.
As more police units from LaGrange, LaGrange Park and Countryside arrived on scene, another witness told police a gun may have been tossed somewhere on campus. Police secured a perimeter around the campus and Western Springs called for assistance from the west suburban Major Case Assistance Team, which conducted a search of the campus for other evidence using additional personnel, police dogs and drones. Police did not report recovering any other weapons.
The high school called off the homecoming dance, which was to be held that night at South Campus, as a precaution. The dance has been rescheduled and will be held in the main courtyard at South Campus on Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
In their report, police did not state why Starkes and Ross were at the game or at whose behest, if anyone. Neither was a student at Lyons Township or Proviso West.
Both men were charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon/possession of a firearm on school grounds. Starkes and Ross remain free on bond awaiting a Nov. 1 hearing at the Bridgeview courthouse.