Chicago gang dispute led to killing on bus

Intended target wasn't hit
By Steve Patterson, Eric Herman and Chris Fusco
The Chicago Sun-Times 
CHICAGO, Ill. — A two-year dispute led one gang member to fire multiple gunshots at another gang member on a crowded bus last week, killing an honor student, law enforcement sources said Sunday.

Michael "Mario" Pace, 16, is charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder in the Thursday shooting that claimed the life of Julian High School student Blair Holt, 16, who was not the intended target.

Facing identical charges is 15-year-old Kevin Jones, who sources said gave Pace the gun. Jones knew Pace wanted to use the weapon to try to kill someone Pace had argued with on an almost "daily basis," possibly over a girl, sources said.

Pace and Jones conspired to fire shots into the CTA bus at 103rd and Western because they knew the intended target regularly took that bus, sources said. Others had heard what they were planning.

Pace was "bragging to people before the bus even came, telling people to clear away" from the area, a source said.

But those on the bus had no idea of the mayhem that was about to ensue, as Pace fired into the bus, wounding five. Pace's intended target was not injured, Cook County state's attorney's spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said. Blair Holt died while protecting a friend, 16-year-old Tiara Reed, by pushing her down into a seat.

A youth who initially told police he was a witness "basically implicated himself during questioning," Chicago Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. Simonton identified him as Kevin Jones.


"They're just children," a frustrated Ronald Holt said of those charged with killing his son. "You wonder where it comes from. What causes a child to wantonly and blatantly hatch such an ill-conceived plan? To go out and do something like this? What makes them do it? Where is this coming from? What are the influences?"

It is those questions that Holt, a Chicago Police gang-crimes officer, and Blair's mother, Annette, a Chicago Fire Department captain, are vowing to work to answer by pushing for more youth-mentoring opportunities, better gun laws and other initiatives aimed at curbing juvenile violence.

Ronald Holt and members of his family are expected to join religious leaders this morning in riding a CTA bus to Julian High to ease students' fears and demand tougher gun laws. The group plans to board a bus around 7 a.m. at the 95th Street Terminal and travel the route on which Blair was killed.

"As adults with values, we have to come up with solutions to combat these acts of violence in a civilized, legal manner," Ronald Holt said.

The Holt household on Saturday night received an emotional visit from the family of the girl their son protected. Like Blair, Tiara Reed is a Julian honor student whose parents are public servants: her mother Janet is a city 911 dispatcher while her father Eddie is a Chicago firefighter.


Friends and family streamed in and out of the Reeds' yard Sunday for a Mother's Day barbecue as Tiara continued to nurse her wounded foot.

"I have my daughter," Janet Reed said on the sidewalk outside her house. "There's no other way to put it. I have my daughter. . . . What's been keeping her spirits up are all these kids. . . . They've been coming in and out, in and out. It's a healing process for her.

"We're keeping her surrounded," Reed later added, "surrounded with love."

Visitation for Blair Holt is set for Thursday evening at Gatling's Funeral Home, 10133 S. Halsted, with funeral services at 10 a.m. Friday at Salem Baptist Church. 

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