Murder of Rockford teen gang related, state’s attorney says

A Winnebago County jury found Mora guilty of first degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm.
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 6:13 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A Rockford man was found guilty of killing a 15-year-old boy in January 2019.

Twenty-seven-year-old Juan Mora killed 15-year-old Za’Shawn Coats, who was with friends in the 700 block of Kent Street. A Winnebago County jury found Mora guilty of first degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm. Officers learned that the shooting was suspected to be gang related as Mora asked Coats and his friends if they were Latin kings, to which they responded no — that they were not in a gang.

On Jan. 21, 2019, the Rockford Police Department was sent to the area of Ferguson and Kent Street in response to a shot spotter alert. Officers found 15-year-old Coats lying in the roadway with an apparent bullet wound and unresponsive.

Officers spoke to friends who were with Coats during the shooting, gathered information from members of the community, and reviewed video surveillance from the surrounding area.

Juan Mora fired two shots in the direction of the four kids and one of the bullets struck Coats. Based on gang intelligence and surveillance video, the Rockford Police Department identified Mora as the shooter.

“This senseless shooting was directly related to gang violence in this community. The investigation and prosecution required the assistance of members of this community we appreciate the bravery of the witnesses who came forward. Because of their cooperation, Juan Mora will be held accountable for this horrible crime,” Winnebago County State’s Attorney Alesandra Friend said.

The case is set for a virtual status hearing on June 11 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 317 of the Winnebago County Courthouse and is pending a sentencing date. The Rockford Police Department conducted the investigation in this case. Assistant State’s Attorneys Alesandra Friend and Ken Larue handled the prosecution.

He’s set to be sentenced in June. Coats attended Jefferson High School.

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