First of 13 ‘Bomb Squad’ gang members sentenced; receives life in prison

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria “Bomb Squad” gang member has been sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison for his role in the street gang known for multiple years of gun violence and murder, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.

Eugene Haywood, 26, was convicted, along with fellow gang members in December 2019, of participating in the racketeering conspiracy. In addition, Haywood was convicted for the murder of Eric Brown, Jr., on June 23, 2013, and Tyrann Chester on July 15, 2013. Haywood is the first to be sentenced of 13 members of the street gang who were convicted in December 2019 following seven weeks of trial.

“This sentence should send a message to others that violent behavior in our communities will not be tolerated. We will use all available resources and continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify, investigate and prosecute those who commit violent acts,” said U.S. Attorney John Milhiser. “There is no higher priority than keeping our communities safe.” Milhiser commended the coordination in this case by the ATF, DEA, Peoria Police Department, Illinois State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service who worked together to get this dangerous individual off the street and successfully prosecuted.

Regarding Brown’s murder, the jury found that Haywood personally fired the gun that killed him, and that he was murdered in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner. According to the DoJ, Haywood felt that he had been ‘disrespected’ by rival gang members on June 24, 2013, and later that day, he fired multiple shots at Brown as he was standing on a porch in the 1800 block of West Ketelle St., in Peoria.

Brown was taken to the hospital where he died approximately 90 minutes later. In Chester’s murder, Haywood was one of three men whom police officers observed running from the scene after a car in which Chester was a backseat passenger was fired upon and Chester was shot in the head and died at the scene, in the 3000 block of West Seibold St., in Peoria.

Sentencing hearings for Haywood’s co-defendants are scheduled to continue this week and next week. Haywood has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since the charges were returned by the grand jury in June 2018.

He will be transferred to the federal Bureau of Prisons to serve his sentence of life plus 10 years. 

Haywood and his co-defendants were convicted of federal racketeering conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Under the RICO statute, the jury found, that from 2013 to the present, members and associates of Bomb Squad engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assault; and arson, to protect itself, its members, and associates from rival gangs and to protect the standing and reputation of Bomb Squad.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Peoria Police Department conducted the investigation with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Illinois State Police.

The DoJ said these charges are the result of an ongoing investigation by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

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