Logan Square man charged with attempted murder took selfie, rode tow truck to shoot 35-year-old man in face, prosecutors say

·3 min read

A 29-year-old man joined a tow truck driver to pose for a threatening selfie in January before heading to another man’s Cragin home to shoot him in the face and leg, authorities said Saturday.

Michael Gracia, a resident of the Logan Square neighborhood, was charged Saturday with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and multiple felony drug possession counts, according to court records.

Judge Charles Beach held him without bail following his bond court appearance, while his attorney argued the 35-year-old man who was shot later attempted to blackmail him.

Prosecutors said prior to the shooting, the man who was critically wounded in the shooting was with a tow truck driver, 32-year-old Nicholas Athans, who was his employer, following a work shift on Jan. 16. Athans, a Brookfield man, was charged earlier this year with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery through discharge of a firearm in connection with the shooting, court records show.

The day of the shooting, the 35-year-old asked for a ride home from Athans, who became irate and started arguing before dropping him off.

Athans then picked up Gracia, who the 35-year-old recognized as a “shooter” for the La Familia Stones street gang, prosecutors said. They said after the man and Athans continued their spat through texting, calling and video chatting, Athans sent a selfie of him and Gracia inside his tow truck with a follow-up text that said, “I told you my family got it like that.”

Athans also told the man that he and Gracia were going to his home, in the 5300 block of West Oakdale Avenue, and alerted him to their arrival. The 35-year-old went outside, where he found Gracia sitting as the front passenger seat of the tow truck and Athans in the driver’s seat, prosecutors said.

About 7:50 p.m., Gracia pulled out a gun and fired one shot in the man’s face, and the bullet became lodged below his brain, prosecutors said. Then Gracia allegedly fired another bullet into the man’s left leg.

A witness hiding behind a PT Cruiser ducked, and Gracia fired three shots in that direction, at least one of them hitting the car, prosecutors said. Gracia and Athans fled before the 35-year-old was hospitalized. Four shell casings from the same weapon were found at the scene.

The witness identified Gracia as the shooter from the selfie and from a photo array, prosecutors said. Gracia was arrested Friday in the 2500 block of West Congress Parkway and allegedly tossed a fanny pack with felony amounts of suspected crack cocaine, heroin, and a loaded handgun and magazine.

Gracia’s private defense attorney Joseph Lopez said the events of the shooting are murky, and alleged the man texted photos to Gracia of himself armed and that he has a recording of the man trying to shake down his client for money “in exchange for testimony.”

“I’m not sure what happened out there that day,” Lopez said. “We have just as much evidence as the state has on the other side of the coin.”

Lopez added that Gracia works for his mother at a residential and commercial cleaning business and has two children.

Gracia was automatically held without bail because, prosecutors said, he violated parole following a 2011 aggravated battery with a firearm conviction in which he was sentenced to eight years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. That shooting took place April 26, 2011, in the 4700 block of West Berenice Avenue, before the Tribune began tracking Chicago shootings in fall 2011, according to records.

Gracia’s next court date for the January shooting is May 26.


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