CHICAGO — The Northwest Side man charged in the killing of 19-year-old Meagan Bilbo was seen circling the illegal Jefferson Park nightclub multiple times before shooting at people as they left, prosecutors said
Rusten Reece Relucio, 27, of the 5100 block of North St. Louis Avenue, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery and was arrested Wednesday. At a bond hearing Thursday, Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Relucio held without bond and said he poses a danger to the community.
Bilbo, of Portage Park, was one of three people shot Dec. 5 while exiting into the alley of Computer Planet, 4804 N. Central Ave. The store, which detectives said was being rented out since October, has been shut down by the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Multiple surveillance cameras show a Dodge Durango registered to Relucio circle the scene several times before stopping near the alley, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said at the hearing.
Although he was wearing a hoodie and mask that obscured his face when the shooting occurred, other video footage from a nearby gas station showed Relucio’s face before the shooting, wearing the same clothes with distinctive marks that are also seen later when he opens fire, prosecutors said.
Cell phone data also places him at the scene of the murder, Murphy said.
After circling, Relucio is seen getting out of the passenger side of the car, walking down the alley and then standing in between two parked cars before shooting 14 times, Murphy said.
“Another camera from nightclub captures the individual … a male steps in between two cards and shoots at the victims, then runs back into the passenger side of the car,” Muprhy said.
Bilbo was opening the back door to catch an Uber home when Relucio shot her in the chest, prosecutors said.
Relucio’s lawyer, Dan Herbert, said the alleged shooter grew up in nearby Sauganash. He asked the judge to place him on electronic monitoring and offer bail, but that was denied.
Prosecutors said Relucio has no previous criminal history apart from two traffic incidents in DuPage county from 2015 and 2016, but Ortiz said the evidence from the Dec. 5 shooting was enough to order no bail.
Prosecutors said they also identified the gunman due to a missing finger on his hand and a tattoo on his other hand.
Prosecutors did not discuss a motive, though Herbert said there is no evidence his client has any gang affiliations.
Relucio is scheduled to appear back in court Feb. 16.
Bilbo’s family and Jefferson Park neighbors have pressed authorities for answers in her death for weeks in regards to the shooting.
Patricia O’Keefe, Bilbo’s aunt who lives in Jefferson Park, said the news of Relucio’s arrest and charges were emotional for the family. She wants him off the street for good so he “can never murder anyone else’s loved one.”
She called the shooting pure evil and a senseless tragedy that should never have happened.
“Meagan was a beautiful soul,” O’Keefe said. “I never imagined I would have to bury her. I would not want anyone else to feel this indescribable pain… it’s indescribable that I am here and she’s not. My prayer and my wish is that no one has to go through this senseless tragedy.”
O’Keefe said Bilbo was like a daughter to her and helped raise her. She remembers listening to the police scanner on the night her niece was killed because she couldn’t sleep — and when she heard of shots fired near Lawrence and Central avenues, she felt a pit in her stomach.
She said she didn’t know Bilbo was at the party but hoped she wasn’t involved. When she heard the news, she said she was stunned.
The family held a small memorial near where Bilbo was killed and lit 19 candles in her honor. Her friends also held a vigil for her at Oz Park in Lincoln Park a few days after the shooting. Loved ones remembered the teen as a courageous, free-spirited and confident person who loved dogs, biking in the city and challenging herself.
O’Keefe said the family has received love and support locally and nationally as they grieve and heal.
“Meagan deserves to know who much she was loved, looking down on heaven,” she said. “My mom, sister and Meagan are up there doing the Irish jig. She is OK now.”
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