Courtesy Chicago Police Department
COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The attorney for a 911 dispatcher arrested after allegedly shooting a women in a road rage incident in McKinley Park says the victim attacked his client and the gun could have fired inadvertently.
The dispatcher, Keli McGrath, 46, was released Friday under the condition she wear electronic monitoring.
McGrath, of the Southwest Side Scottsdale neighborhood, was arrested following the Wednesday shooting that has been described as a road rage incident turned violent.
Police accused McGrath of shooting an 18-year-old woman in the chest after the two argued about a traffic incident. The 18-year-old was struck in the heart and is still fighting for her life, according to state prosecutors.
McGrath had left a doctor’s office and was driving on South Ashland Avenue when she tried to merge into the victim’s lane but the victim would not let her in, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said in court Friday.
McGrath did not use her turn signal, attorneys said. That lead to an argument that escalated when the two were stopped at 35th Street and Ashland, and the victim threw a cup of pop at McGrath, hitting her in the face, Antonietti said.
The two then pulled over and continued arguing, Antonietti said. McGrath got into her car to call 911 and the victim came up to her car and continued the argument, she said.
The victim went back to her car and McGrath thought she was attempting to flee before police got there, so McGrath blocked the teen from driving away by standing in front of her car, according to Antonietti and McGrath’s attorney.
The teen got out of her car and the altercation turned physical, according to both attorneys.
McGrath’s attorney, James McFay, said the woman picked up McGrath and slammed her on the ground, injuring her head. The gun went off during the incident, striking the woman in the chest, both the prosecutor and defense attorney said.
In court, McFay said the gun could have fired inadvertently during the scuffle but he would not elaborate after the hearing.
McFay referred to the shooting victim as a “bully,” adding that “the evidence is going to show that [the victim] was the aggressor.”
The altercation was caught on police cameras, though McFay said the family has not reviewed the footage.
The shooting victim has had one heart surgery and is expected to need two more, Antonietti said. The bullet is lodged in her abdomen and her condition is “unknown,” the prosecutor said.
McGrath has no prior criminal record. She legally carries a gun because she works the night shift as a 911 dispatcher for the Office of Emergency Management and Communication, McFay said. The attorney said that family believes she is still in good standing with her employer. A spokeswoman for the agency did not immediately respond for comment.
She is facing one charge of aggravated battery, discharging a firearm.
“It’s sad that’s how our society deals with these situations,” Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil said.