Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office announced Friday evening that Chicago detectives had arrested Alton Spann, who is charged with murdering recent University of Chicago graduate Shaoxiong Zheng during a robbery on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
At a news conference at police headquarters, Superintendent David Brown announced that Spann was being charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
Deputy Chief of Detectives Rahman Muhammad recounted that Spann approached Zheng on 54th Place, announced a robbery and shot him in the torso before stealing personal belongings, including electronics. Spann then got in a black Ford Mustang that fled westbound on 54th Place.
Detectives recovered footage from police observation devices (PODS), private and U. of C. cameras of the Mustang, which is how they got its license plate. The Mustang was reported stolen from Markham, Illinois, and tracked; a person of interest — Spann — was identified from the videos, Muhammad said.
Around 6:20 p.m. on Nov. 10, Spann was at the Marshall Field Homes around North Avenue and Sedgwick Street; Muhammad said he was arrested with two firearms and a Mustang key fob. Muhammad said Spann was operating the vehicle during the homicide and that there is footage of him selling Zheng's electronics at a cell phone store, reportedly for $100.
Muhammad said detectives recovered the items and confirmed them to be Zheng's, and that CPD's firearm lab tested the guns Spann had on him and confirmed they were used to murder Zheng. The Mustang was found around Garfield Avenue and LaSalle Street, Muhammad said, and Spann was wearing the same clothes when he was arrested as he was wearing when he allegedly murdered Zheng.
Brown said police are looking to see if anyone else was involved.
“Mayor Lightfoot is extremely proud of the dogged and phenomenal work of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Detectives to quickly apprehend and charge Alton Spann for the murder of Shaoxiong Zheng," a spokesman said. "Individuals who commit senseless and cowardly acts of violence, and who recklessly cut short the lives of residents must be held accountable, and it is the mayor’s hope that this announcement can serve as the first step on the long road toward healing and justice for Mr. Zheng’s family and loved ones, as well as the University of Chicago community.
The mayor will continue to keep this young man’s family, as well as the entire Hyde Park and University of Chicago communities in her prayers as they continue to grapple with this tragic loss. As communities throughout Chicago continue to struggle with gun violence, protecting the lives and wellbeing of all of Chicago’s residents and visitors remains the mayor’s top priority.”
Zheng was from Chengdu, China, and earned a master's degree in statistics from the U. of C. earlier this year.
While police put into custody a 28-year-old for stabbing a 31-year-old victim, reportedly his brother, on the 5300 block of Cottage Grove Avenue at approximately 6:34 a.m., the CPD Office of Communications confirmed Friday that the offender was released without charging.
The victim later died at the U. of C. Medical Center.