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Illinois Teen Fatally Shot Twice In Back By Police, Autopsy Confirms

Justus Howell, 17, was shot twice in the back during a confrontation with police officers on Saturday, the local coroner confirmed Monday.

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An Illinois teenager was fatally shot twice in the back by police officers on Saturday, the local coroner's office confirmed Monday.

Justus Howell, 17, suffered two wounds to his torso on Saturday during an encounter with police in city of Zion. One round penetrated his spleen, liver, and heart, while the other hit his right shoulder, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said in a news release on Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The statement said toxicology results were still pending.

On Saturday, Howell was killed by officers who had responded to a 911 call that reported hearing a gunshot during "an argument or fight" around 2 p.m., according to Zion police.

Police said in a news release Monday that the teen had stolen a gun from 18-year-old Tramond Peet, who had arranged to meet Howell to sell the weapon on Saturday. Peet said Howell refused to pay, so they struggled over the gun and it discharged.

When police arrived, the teen ran from the scene with the gun still in his possession, which prompted officers to chase him, according to the news release.

But at least two eye witnesses interviewed by the Chicago Sun Times said the teen did not have a gun.

"I didn't see a gun, no knife, nothing," resident Bobbie Vaughn told the paper.

Another eye witness interviewed by NBC Chicago also said Howell was not holding a gun when police opened fire.

Police said they provided medical attention to Howell after he was shot until paramedics arrived. The teen was later was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The officer who shot Howell — identified only as a 34-year-old who has been with the Zion Police Department for nine years — he has been placed on leave while the investigation is ongoing.

The Lake County Major Crime Task Force and the Lake County state's attorney's office are investigating the shooting.

On Sunday, family members, friends, and activists gathered at the scene of the shooting.

The 17-year-old's mother, LaToya Howell, said Justus also wanted to go to medical school to be a surgeon, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

"Justus was a young man murdered by Zion police," she said. "As he was fleeing from police. They killed my son. He couldn't have been a threat if he was running."

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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