A convicted drug dealer who was given a second chance after a pardon from former President Barack Obama has been arrested for attempted murder in a shootout that left a woman with traumatic brain injuries, police said.
Alton Mills, 54, had his life sentence commuted in 2015 after serving 22 years.
A group of friends in a car exiting a nightclub passed Mr Mills’ SUV at a red light in Poznan, near Chicago, in the early hours of Sunday, according to Assistant Prosecutor Kathryn Morrissey.
Mr Mills then allegedly drove to the other car, rolled down his window and fired three shots. A bullet hit a woman who was sleeping in the back seat of the car, and doctors said she would not survive her injuries. Her name has not been published.
The driver of the vehicle pulled into a fire station to dial 911, and Illinois State Police located Mr. Mills. Investigators said Mr Mills admitted firing the shots.
He was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder and is being held without bail in the Cook County Jail.
Police subsequently searched Mr Mills’ home and found .40 caliber bullets matching those used in the shooting. His vehicle also tested positive for gunshot residue.
Mr. Mills was arrested in 1993 and later convicted of selling cocaine on federal conspiracy charges. Despite being found on him with less than five grams of crack cocaine, prosecutors requested an escalation of charges, which increased his sentence to life imprisonment The Daily Mail.
The push to pardon Mr Mills began with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin. He asked for his sentence to be reduced, noting that Mr Mills’ first two drug abuse convictions did not result in a prison sentence.
Mr. Mills’ case was integrated into a broader initiative by the Obama administration to grant clemency to nonviolent offenders incarcerated during the 1990s US War on Drugs, which disproportionately targeted black people.
Senator Durbin argued at the time that Mr. Mills had shown personal growth during his two decades in prison and that community support awaited him in Chicago.
After his release, Mr. Mills began working as a mechanic in Chicago before taking a job as a janitor.