COLLINSVILLE, IL – A case of mistaken identity nearly cost an Illinois man his life earlier this month, as he was nearly beaten to death in front of his family by three assailants, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department said.
According to Captain Bruce Fleshren, chief of investigations for the sheriff’s department, the incident occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 8 near the intersection of Pearl and Art streets in Collinsville.
Deputies responded to calls of shots being fired at a vehicle. When they arrived at the scene, deputies found a GMC Yukon with several bullet holes in it.
Fleshren said deputies also located a victim in the vehicle had been beaten and pistol-whipped by unknown attackers. The victim, a 38-year-old man, said he was with his wife and their three children—ages 3, 7, and 11—at the time of the attack. They were returning home after spending the evening with extended family.
The victim told investigators that a white pickup truck pulled up alongside their vehicle and people in the truck started shooting at them. The bullets shattered windows and narrowly missed the children in the Yukon.
"There were bullets lodged in the seats in the back within inches of where the children were sitting," Fleshren explained Tuesday.
Fleshren said that the father stopped the vehicle and three men in the pickup truck got out and attacked him. The trio beat the 38-year-old in the street in front of the victim’s wife and children. At one point, one of the assailants used a pistol to strike the victim.
Fleshren said the suspects eventually determined the 38-year-old victim was not the right target of their attack and fled the area in their truck.
Investigators eventually identified the suspects and took them into custody on July 21.
"I've been around for 30 years and I don't know a lot of where something has gone to this level before they determine it's not the right car or the right person," Fleshren went on to say.
Fleshren said there's no word yet on whom the three men were looking for and why.
"Clearly there is some type of rivalry or some type of bad blood with somebody," he said.
FOX 2 attempted to speak with neighbors in the areas of where the suspects lived but they refused to go on camera, telling us there is a lot of gang related crime that happens around their neighborhood and that no one feels safe speaking up for fear of retaliation.
The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office charged 31-year-old Ryan Miniex with aggravated discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, unlawful possession of a firearm with a revoked concealed carry license, and mob action. He remains jailed on $75,000 bond.
Thirty-five-year-old Alex Molina and 24-year-old Salvador Hernandez were each charged with mob action and remains jailed on $50,000 and $40,000 bond, respectively.