Police have arrested suspects following two armed robberies in a six day stretch last week along Madison Street’s entertainment district.
In a June 4 armed robbery, a group of teens pistol-whipped a Forest Park woman before stealing her car. A few days later, on June 9, a 17-year-old Chicagoan held up a Forest Park man returning home to his apartment near Madison Street and Hannah Avenue, took his car keys and fled in the man’s Dodge Avenger.
“I can’t say for certain, but I’m hoping this isn’t a trend that will continue throughout the summer. I’m hoping it’s just a coincidence,” Forest Park Chief of Police Thomas Aftanas said June 12 of the robberies. “These offenders were extremely young and they were violent…There’s definitely some concern there.”
Aftanas noted in both instances the victims acted appropriately, giving up their valuables without resisting and then immediately calling police.
“If confronted by an armed offender do what they say,” Aftanas added. “It’s not worth it.”
Forest Park police arrested a 16-year-old Chicago resident they say fled the scene of the June 4 carjacking, and three other people found to be in possession of the stolen vehicle were arrested by Chicago police June 5 after firing shots at officers on the West Side of Chicago.
Four unidentified juveniles pistol-whipped the Forest Park woman on June 4 around 10:45 p.m. and stole her Nissan Murano from the parking lot of Forest View Laundromat, 7656 Madison St., according to Forest Park police.
The victim, a customer at the laundromat, was sitting in her vehicle when she was approached by the offenders, who ordered her out of the vehicle and pistol-whipped her before leaving in her vehicle, followed by a “chase” car described as a Jeep SUV.
The woman was treated at the scene for injuries and released, Deputy Police Chief Michael Keating said.
“She was struck hard enough that she was bleeding,” Keating said.
Forest Park police located the stolen Murano and the Jeep SUV, driving eastbound on I-290. Police chased both vehicles to the southbound Dan Ryan Expressway. Police lost the stolen Murano in traffic, but, with the help of Chicago Police and Illinois State Police, were able to arrest the driver and passenger of the Jeep after it ran out of gas on the Stony Island exit ramp after a roughly 40-mile chase, Keating said.
The 15-year-old passenger and 16-year-old driver of the Jeep were taken to Forest Park for questioning and eventually to the juvenile detention center in Chicago. The 16-year-old faces a single count of fleeing police. No weapons were recovered from the Jeep, Keating said. The two teens, Keating said, did not leave the Jeep during the carjacking.
The Jeep reportedly was stolen in an earlier carjacking and was found “riddled” with bullet holes, which police said were not from the Forest Park incident.
The stolen Murano, police said, was later involved in a shooting on June 5 in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Two 17-year-olds and a 12-year-old reportedly fired at Chicago Police officers and fled in the Murano. The three later were apprehended near Pulaski Road and I-55.
The Chicago Tribune has reported that the two 17-year-olds and a 12-year-old were charged with attempted murder. No officers were hurt in the shooting.
Keating said police are not sure which, if any, of three were involved in the Forest Park incident. They have not been charged with any crimes related to the Forest Park carjacking.
Just a few days after the pistol-whipping incident, on June 9, police apprehended a person they suspect of stealing a car in Forest Park. The 17-year-old, according to Keating, is facing several charges, including armed robbery and unlawful use of a weapon.
Forest Park police say that a local man had just parked his car in the municipal lot on Hannah Avenue just south of Madison Street at about 4:15 p.m. and was walking through the alley to his apartment when a black Chevy Impala drove up and stopped behind him.
The alleged offender then got out of the Impala and walked up to the victim as he began climbing the back stairs of his apartment building. The offender reportedly pointed a gun at the victim’s face and ordered him to hand over the car keys. The victim gave him the keys, which were used to steal the car, a silver Dodge Avenger.
The victim called 911 and Oak Park police located the vehicle a short time later, following it until the driver lost control at the intersection of Adams Street and Kenilworth Avenue, running down a yield sign before slamming into the curb and a small tree.
“I thought there had been a car accident,” said Edith Balch, who was inside her home at the time of the crash and went outside to see what had happened. “The police asked us to get back in our houses, because they said the man was armed. It’s very scary.”
Another witness said he heard the crash and went outside to see the car rolling back off the curb. He said he saw a male with bushy hair “fall out” of the vehicle and then run north through the alley between Kenilworth and Grove avenues.
Police, some armed with assault rifles, descended on the area and formed a perimeter south of Monroe Avenue and west of Oak Park Avenue, taking up positions on each corner as officers searched for the suspect.
Just after 5:30 p.m., police located the suspect apparently walking in an alley between the 600 blocks of Euclid and Wesley avenues. Michael Tauber, a neighborhood resident, said he was parking his car in his garage when he saw the suspect begin running south before cutting east through a side yard.
Police took the suspect into custody in the 600 block of Wesley Avenue. According to Forest Park police, officers recovered a loaded handgun. The Chevy Impala, which the offender abandoned in Forest Park, reportedly was stolen in Chicago and was fitted with license plates that had been stolen from another vehicle in Bellwood.