Investigators are renewing their calls for witnesses to come forward to help identify the gunman who shot and killed an 18-year-old man, who was in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” at a Waukegan park.
Ladarrius M. Cowart, 18, of Gurnee, was shot in the head and died at Bowen Park, 1800 North Sheridan Road in Waukegan.
Officers with the Waukegan Police Department responded to calls of shots fired at the park around 2:20 a.m. on June 6, 2021.
Officers located Cowart, who had been shot in one of the park’s parking lots, then-Waukegan Deputy Police Chief Joe Florip said at the time.
Paramedics pronounced Cowart dead at the scene. The Waukegan Police Criminal Investigations Division was called to investigate the shooting.
Investigators believe that numerous people, possibly between 50-70, were in the parking lot when the shooting occurred. None of the witnesses have come forward.
“We know there are witnesses to this crime. For this violence to stop, members of the community must come forward,” Then-Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said in 2021.
Gurnee resident Hazel Truesdell, who is a family friend of Cowart, said that Cowart was an “amazing son, brother, nephew, and friend” and was “loved by so many.”
He was hanging out with his friends at the park after attending a graduation party earlier in the day when his life was taken by “senseless gun violence,” Truesdell said.
She said the teen had no gang affiliation or criminal record. “His family is truly devastated by his sudden loss. The last thing a parent should have to do is bury their child.”
The Waukegan Park District in July 2021 said they were “using enhanced safety measures” at the city’s park in the wake of Cowart’s death, including hiring a private security firm to patrol.
Cowart’s family said they are heartbroken by the loss and even more saddened that no witnesses have come forward, despite dozens being present when the murder happened.
The Lake County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information.
Officials with Crime Stoppers told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that Cowart was not a troublemaker and was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Waukegan Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 847-360-9001 or Lake County Crime Stoppers at 847-662-2222. Tipsters can remain anonymous.