Springfield Police Chief Shares Details of Fatal Juvenile Detention Facility Shooting

By Benjamin Cox on October 4, 2023 at 11:13am

There is still no information on how a 17-year old male juvenile obtained a gun and held a hostage prior to being shot by police at the Sangamon County Juvenile Detention Center in Springfield on Saturday.

Springfield Police Chief Ken Scarlette spoke to Springfield media yesterday about the incident that left the teen shooter dead and another injured. Scarlette said that if certain measures had been in place at the facility, the officer from the Springfield Police Department would not have had to use deadly force to stop the situation.

Scarlette spoke to reporters after personally reviewing body camera video and video from inside the facility. He said he intends to release the video to the public soon, but so far, no video has been released by Springfield Police, Sangamon County or the Illinois State Police.

Scarlette said a veteran officer from Springfield PD , and a new recruit that the other officer was training responded to the scene, along with one other Springfield officer, and a Rochester police officer: “The caller indicated that there were shots fired in the facility. The caller indicated that they believed that a person inside had been struck, and the caller indicated that the suspect claimed he was going to kill the hostage if not released. That’s the information that was relayed to all of our officers responding. As our officers arrived and were heading towards the entrance, the front door swung open as the suspect was attempting to come out of the entrance. That’s sort of how [the officers and the suspect] met. There were no shots fired from the suspect outside of the facility, I should say.”

Scarlette told the State Journal-Register that the suspect fired off at least four rounds at three different people before attempting to flee from the facility. None of the individuals were struck. Scarlette said gunfire could also be heard on the 9-1-1 tape. The teen demanded all the doors be unlocked, which is why he was able to open the front door, Scarlette said.

Scarlette went on to say that the active shooter situation ended when the veteran officer fired multiple rounds at the suspect with his department-issued AR-15 rifle. The suspect died later at HSHS St. John’s Hospital from gunshot wounds sustained in the altercation with police.

Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon said in a press release Tuesday that he will be keeping the identity of the juvenile confidential while the investigation by the Illinois State Police continues. Scarlette confirmed the juvenile had been detained at the facility since September 11th. The Springfield officers that responded to the scene are currently on restricted duty, per department policy.

Facility Director Kent Holsapple confirmed to WCIA that the hostage was a female detainee at the facility. Scarlette said the injured female detainee suffered a “minor” injury above the leg. That person was treated and released for their injuries. No county employees were injured.

The Sangamon County Facility is currently shut down, and Holsopple said in a statement that “safety is a top priority” and there is no timetable for the facility reopening. The remaining detainees have been shipped to other facilities around the state while the investigation into the incident continues.