Chicago armed citizen shoots robber during shoe sale

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

It was supposed to be a simple transaction; cash for a pair of sneakers. Instead, it turned into a shootout in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood on Tuesday night as a legal gun owner took on an armed robber who thought he had an unarmed victim in his sights.

According to authorities the 28-year old victim met up with the 18-year old selling the shoes, but when the teen asked the man to show him the money before the swap was made, the suspect ended up pulling a gun and firing a shot, hitting the would-be buyer in the shoulder.

The victim, who is a concealed carry license holder, grabbed his gun and fired back at the 18-year-old, before attempting to flee the scene in his car. While attempting to flee, the victim crashed into an unoccupied parked car, police said.

The 18-year-old was apprehended by police, and sustained a gunshot wound to the hand, police said. He was taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition.

The 28-year-old was taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition as well, police said.

With the current chaos in Chicago, I’m not sure that it would have made any difference in this particular case, but I always encourage folks who are engaging in a face-to-face sale that originated online to do so in a well-lit area with plenty of other people around. Some police departments will even allow you to use their parking lots for exchanges so you have a safer place to meet.

Is there really a truly safe place in Chicago these days, though? Given the state of the city’s criminal justice system, it’s hard to argue that even neighborhoods with low levels of violent crime are inherently safe. As CWB Chicago recently pointed out, even suspects released on electronic monitoring have a glaring loophole they can take advantage of.

A Chicago man who is awaiting trial for two armed robberies and a separate felony gun case left his home while on electronic monitoring to carjack a woman at gunpoint on Halloween, prosecutors said Tuesday.

But, because the man was not away from his home for more than 48 hours, he cannot be charged with escaping electronic monitoring under Illinois’ new criminal justice reform law.

Class X vehicular hijacking charges were filed against Peter Andrews just days before Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart will conduct a Zoom meeting, moderated by State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (6th), called “Straight Talk on Electronic Monitoring.”

Promotional materials for the event list four state politicians as hosts: Sen. Rob Martwick (10th); Rep. Ann Williams (11th); Rep. Margaret Croke (12th); and Rep. Jaime Andrade Jr (40th).

Feigenholtz, Martwick, Williams, and Croke all voted in favor of the new law that decriminalized electronic monitoring absences of less than 48 hours. Andrade did not vote on the legislation.

In addition to removing penalties for electronic monitoring violations of less than two days, the legislators also granted people on electronic monitoring permission to leave their homes two days a week to complete tasks.

What is the point of electronic monitoring if defendants are allowed to walk away for up to 48 hours without consequence? And what’s stopping a criminal suspect from walking away for, say, 47 hours before returning home for a bite to eat and then heading back out for another two days of unmonitored activity?

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently urged the head of the Cook County judiciary to keep suspects behind bars and off of electronic monitoring if they’re accused of especially violent crimes, but Chief Judge Tim Evans has rejected that request, stating that suspects should remain in jail while awaiting trial only if prosecutors have demonstrated “clear and convincing evidence” that the suspect poses a flight risk or a “real and present threat” to the safety of another.

Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell also noted that the vast majority of defendants who are released on EM are not arrested again and show up for all their pre-trial hearings.

“The mayor has proposed detaining people based on accusations. That is unconstitutional. We must have a hearing to examine whether a person should be held,” Mitchell said in a statement. “The notion that folks are innocent until proven guilty is not a dusty legal precedent. This fundamental right exists because our system gets it wrong all the time. Being arrested for something does not mean someone is guilty.”

As easy as it would be to say “keep everyone locked up until their trial,” that’s neither practical nor constitutional. But Chicago’s electronic monitoring system is worthless if those subjected to it can disappear for two days without violating the law, and that’s definitely going to encourage some defendants to engage in more violent crimes while they’re awaiting trial on previous charges.

What’s an Illinois resident to do in the face of the craziness in the criminal justice system? Well, plenty of folks have decided to simply leave the state, but that’s not an option for everyone. For those who remain behind, my advice is simple: get a gun, get your carry license, and don’t go unarmed in Chicago if you can help it.