Suspected gang members charged for St. Clair County shooting

Damian Armendariz-Vasquez and Ladevion Pence.

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office charged two men in connection with an August shooting that left a 17-year-old paralyzed.

According to Captain Bruce Fleshren, chief of investigations for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, the shooting took place just after 9:10 p.m. on August 5 at the intersection of Art and Eva streets.

Deputies learned the 17-year-old victim was walking in the intersection with a friend when they were approached by a group of men and a verbal confrontation unfolded. Two of the men in the group pulled out firearms and began shooting at the victim and his friend.

The victim was struck several times in the upper body but the friend managed to get away uninjured.

The victim was taken to a St. Louis-area hospital. It was eventually determined the 17-year-old victim would never be able to walk again as a result of his injuries.

Capt. Fleshren said investigators took two people into custody on August 30 for the shooting. Prosecutors filed charges the following day.

The first suspect, 18-year-old Ladevion Pence, was charged with four counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a gang member, and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He was jailed on a $1 million bond.

Pence’s suspected accomplice, 19-year-old Damian Armendariz-Vasquez, was charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a gang member, and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He was jailed on a $100,000 bond.

A juvenile was with the suspects at the time of their arrest, but he was not charged.

Fleshren said both Pence and Armendariz-Vasquez are members of the 155’s Gang, a Hispanic gang that operates in the areas of State Park Place, Fairmont City, and Collinsville.

Investigators and prosecutors said the suspects mistook the victim and his friend for members of a rival gang that operates in the same area.