A pair of burglars stole a mix of 55 rifles, shotguns, and handguns in two burglaries of a Zion, Illinois gun store as part of an apparent plot to retaliate against police for a bizarrely controversial killing of armed criminal:

Two Zion men are charged with stealing guns worth about $30,000 from a gun store, and investigators are looking into an allegation that they planned to retaliate against police for a controversial recent shooting by an officer, prosecutors said.

Lawrence Taylor and Clarence Williams, both 18, are charged with burglarizing a Zion gun store and stealing about 55 rifles, semi-automatic handguns and shotguns in two alleged break-ins the night of May 31 and early June 1, according to court records and Assistant State’s Attorney Reginald Mathews.

A 17-year-old is also in custody but had not been charged Wednesday morning, Mathews said.

A witness told investigators that the group planned to sell some of the guns allegedly taken from 5 Star Firearms and use others to retaliate against Zion police for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Justus Howell by one of the department’s officers April 4, the prosecutor said. Mathews stressed that police are still looking into that information.

Another account identifies both men as gang members.

Howell was shot twice in the back in April after pointing a handgun at Zion police officers during  afoot chase. Howell had just stolen the gun from another criminal, and turned and pointed the gun at pursuing officers as he attempted to flee the crime scene.

As we noted at the time:

…Howell attempted to illegally take possession (via strong-arm robbery) of what is likely a stolen weapon while underage. He was then allegedly dumb enough to brandish the weapon, instead of immediately dropping it when police arrived.

Howell then attempted to evade arrest, still brandishing the weapon, when officers made a judgement call and shot him twice as he attempted to escape, killing him.

According to the fleeing felon rule, which allows law enforcement officers to use lethal force against felony suspects, this appears to be a “good shoot.”

The officer who shot Howell was exonerated during an investigation as expected, and has returned to desk duty.

Howell’s family howled loudly over his justified shooting, spurring minor protests briefly buoyed by the professional agitators of the socialist/communist-supported “black lives matter” campaign.