CHICAGO (AP) — A 27-year-old known gang member has been arrested and charged in the shooting of an ATF agent in Chicago, making his first appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday with dozens of federal agents crowding spectator benches.
Ernesto Godinez is charged with forcible assault of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent. The shooting happened before dawn Friday in what investigators described as an ambush in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side.
The agent was shot in the face and is expected to make a full recovery.
Asked by U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valsez Tuesday if he understood the charge, Godinez nodded. Prodded by his lawyer to say it out loud, he added softly, “Yeah, Yeah.” He stood in orange jail clothes, with a tattoo on his forearm and his long hair tied at the back. He was not required to enter a plea.
More than 50 ATF and other federal agents packed courtroom benches just behind the suspect. Since the courtroom was filled to capacity, others agents who couldn’t get in sat in a nearby overflow room to listen to audio of the proceedings.
If convicted, Godinez faces a maximum 20 years in prison. That charge was in a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday. More charges could be added later.
Godinez, whom police list as a gang member, was arrested Monday night. A bond hearing is set for May 17 and a prosecutor told the magistrate judge that the government would oppose his release on the grounds he was dangerous and a flight risk.
Friday’s shooting prompted a massive manhunt and authorities offered a reward of more than $60,000 for information. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Friday called the shooting “barbaric.”
The ATF has raised its profile in Chicago amid a persistently high homicide rate.
Chicago police and the ATF last June announced the formation of the Chicago Crime Gun Strike Force aimed at stemming the flow of illegal guns. The ATF also sent an additional 20 agents to Chicago and loaned the city a van outfitted with ballistic testing equipment to help police more quickly solve gun crimes.