JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) --Charges have been filed by the U.S. Attorney's office against two brothers taken into custody after a shootout in the parking lot of the busy Louis Joliet Mall in the southwest suburbs. Witnesses said it was an intense gun battle.
Fernando Godinez, 45, of Cicero is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. His brother Adan Godinez, 31, of Morris is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of discharge of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
The gunfire broke out at around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Authorities said the incident began as an undercover drug operation led by the DEA.
Federal agents said they made the move to arrest two men in possession of two kilograms of cocaine, but Adan allegedly started shooting at them.
"We heard this pop, pop, pop, pop and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?'" said Michael McChuen, whose car was damaged by gunfire.
McChuen considers himself lucky he wasn't sitting in his truck at the time the undercover drug buy went bad.
"God had his hand on us because I was with my wife rather than going to my truck, otherwise it could've been a whole different story. And these people that were out in the parking lot are very lucky because the bullets were going everywhere," he said.
Agents returned fire. Adan was wounded in the leg and Fernando was taken into custody. Adan remains hospitalized with a gunshot wound. Fernando appeared in court Wednesday and ordered detained in federal custody.
Eight cars were shot and DEA agents said they recovered two kilograms of cocaine and two guns. But some are questioning whether it was a good idea to set up a drug sting in a busy mall parking lot.
"There was a Porsche with glass broken, next thing the cops were everywhere. It was really scary," said Hanny Hamdan, who works at the mall.
Wednesday a DEA spokesperson defended the operation even though it devolved into a shootout at a shopping mall, telling ABC7 Eyewitness News, "Our reaction was based upon the offenders' actions. They were brazen enough to shoot multiple rounds."
"It's just a reminder, guys and gals, how dangerous it is at times for law enforcement doing a tough job. It's a scary call," said Dennis Wichern, DEA, at a Wednesday press conference.
McChuen's car needed $750 in repairs and he missed a day of work, but he's once again ready to roll and thankful no one was killed.
"It was a complete inconvenience but no police were hurt, so it's all good," McChuen said.