JANESVILLE—“We don’t know.”
That is how Rock County Assistant District Attorney Mason Braunschweig described many aspects of the Oct. 23, 2019 fatal shooting death of Enrique Ramirez, 19, of Beloit, during a sentencing hearing Wednesday of a Beloit man charged in connection with the case.
Chet A. Hummell, 31, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and was sentenced to three years probation by Rock County Circuit Court Judge Karl Hanson.
“It is absolute tragedy that brings us here today,” Hanson said.
Hummell maintained throughout the investigation that he was attacked by Ramirez after being struck in the face with a firearm while in the backseat of a vehicle near the corner of Vine and North streets in Beloit. In the ensuing struggle, witnesses who were in the front seats of the vehicle told Beloit police that Hummell fired the gun at Ramirez “eight to nine times,” court records show.
Immediately after the shooting, Hummell fled the vehicle and disposed of the handgun in the Rock River, court records indicate. He was arrested Oct. 25, 2019 in Rockford, Illinois by officers of the Rockford Police Department.
“This is a difficult case,” Braunschweig said. “When we look at the entire facts, we know in essence it involved some sort of meet up and a potential (narcotics) transaction. But there was no full evidence of that in the vehicle. Someone attacked, somewhere a gun appeared…these facts are difficult to hash out. (Ramirez) was killed when the gun went off. We don’t know who was holding it and we don’t know how it went off.”
No homicide charges were ever filed following Ramirez’s death.
“It’s not always the easiest thing to swallow because we don’t like what occurred,” Braunschweig said. “I can’t invent facts and can’t prosecute on reasonable doubt. That’s why we are dealing with this charge today and this charge alone.”
Hummell became emotional while on the video conference call.
“I just want to say that I am sorry (to the Ramirez family),” Hummell said through tears. “I wish none of this would have ever happened. I just wish I could take this all back.”
In closing, Hanson challenged Hummell to take Wednesday’s conviction to move forward in life.
“I do believe you are demonstrating genuine remorse,” Hanson said. “You have to be the one to bring positive things to the community. Don’t let this only slip into tragedy. It comes through you and we want you to fulfill that. It’s on your shoulders what is going to be positive from this.”
As part of a plea agreement, a felony bail jumping charge and THC possession charge from a traffic stop on Aug. 10 in Beloit were dismissed.