Gang members charged in State Park Place shooting that left teen paralyzed, police say

Two men who police say were targeting rival gang members have been charged in an August shooting near Collinsville that left a teenager permanently paralyzed.

Ladevion Pence, 18, of Granite City, and 19-year-old Damian O. Armendariz-Vasquez, of Collinsville, are accused of shooting the teen because they thought he was a member of a rival Hispanic gang. The teenager who was shot is not a part of any gang, police confirmed.

A St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office news release on Tuesday stated that the two were taken into custody Thursday after an investigation into the shooting of the 17-year-old boy on Aug. 5. He and a friend had been walking near Art and Eva streets in State Park Place near Collinsville after 9 p.m. when he was shot three times. His friend escaped without injury.

The news release stated there was another teen with Armendariz-Vasquez and Pence during the shooting. He was not charged in the incident.

Pence is being held on $1 million bail and remained in custody on Tuesday morning. He is charged with four counts of aggravated battery, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a street gang member, and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Armendariz-Vasquez remained in custody on Tuesday on a $100,000 bail. He is charged with two counts of aggravated battery with great bodily arm, one count of being a street gang member with a gun, and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Grand jury actions are pending against each of them.

Neither has a criminal history as an adult in St. Clair County.

The Sheriff’s Department says Pence and Armendariz-Vasquez are members of the I55 gang, which operates in State Park Place, Fairmont City and Collinsville. Deputies declined to say which gang might have been the intended targets.

“We are happy to see these two charged and in custody. Obviously if they are willing to allegedly gun down an unarmed teenager on a Sunday evening ... they do not need to be out on our streets,” said Sheriff Rick Watson.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535; @MaryCooleyBND