Brian Rodriguez, 18, of Winthrop Harbor (inset), was charged in connection to the homicide of Willie Wright Jr. in Zion on Wednesday. | Background Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

An 18-year-old man was charged in connection to the homicide of a 20-year-old man during a gun exchange outside a Zion apartment building on Wednesday.

Brian Rodriguez, 18, of Winthrop Harbor, was charged with three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, a Class 4 felony.

The charges stem from the homicide of Willie Wright Jr., 20, of North Chicago.

The Zion Police Department and Zion Fire & Rescue Department responded at 7:31 p.m. Wednesday to the 4200 block of Barberry Lane in Zion for reports of a man, later identified as Wright, who was fatally shot outside an apartment building.

Rodriguez appeared for his first appearance hearing at the Lake County Courthouse Saturday morning.

Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Lillian Lewis said that Rodriguez and his brother arranged to meet with Wright to sell or exchange a gun.

[Suggested Article]  2 gunmen accused of shooting at victim during sale meetup that ended in attempted robbery in Zion
SWAT teams with the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) executed search warrants at Brian Rodriguez’s apartment in the 600 block of Sheridan Road in Winthrop Harbor Thursday evening. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

Lewis said that during the exchange, Rodriguez allegedly discharged his gun, according to witness statements.

It was unclear how many rounds Rodriguez allegedly discharged and if any of them struck Wright.

Investigators obtained search warrants for Rodriguez’s apartment.

Rodriguez also had an active arrest warrant for failing to appear on an unrelated traffic case where he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in 2021.

Rodriguez allegedly refused to exit his Winthrop Harbor apartment in the 600 block of Sheridan Road when SWAT teams with the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) went to serve the search warrants Thursday evening.

Police found Rodriguez allegedly hiding inside the apartment and arrested him.

SWAT teams with the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) executed search warrants at Brian Rodriguez’s apartment in the 600 block of Sheridan Road in Winthrop Harbor Thursday evening. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

Officers recovered a Glock handgun, 2 disassembled rifles, drum magazines and ammunition, consistent with being fired, inside Rodriguez’s apartment, Lewis said.

[Suggested Article]  Police searching for suspect who robbed gas station on border of Lake County, Kenosha County

The evidence was collected for the Zion homicide investigation.

Lewis asked Lake County Judge Paul Novak to keep Rodriguez detained until his detention hearing.

Lake County Assistant Public Defender Samantha VonSpreecken asked Novak to have Rodriguez released until the hearing, saying she believes “this is a strong case of self-defense.”

No other details of the shooting were mentioned in the courtroom.

Police investigate inside an apartment building in the 600 block of Sheridan Road in Winthrop Harbor after SWAT teams executed search warrants Thursday evening. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

The judge ordered Rodriguez detained until his detention hearing, which is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Rodriguez was subsequently booked into the Lake County Jail after his first appearance hearing.

Police have not released further details on the homicide investigation and it is unknown if anyone else is in custody.