Chicago man admits to multiple robberies on city's "gun-free" transit system

Snow falls as commuters wait for Chicago's El train Monday morning, April 9, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Concealed carry is prohibited on public transportation in Chicago (and the rest of the state as well) for the time being, though there is a lawsuit underway challenging the constitutionality of making buses and trains gun-free zones. But while gun owners are prohibited from bringing their guns on board, those with criminal intent don’t seem to be too worried about the consequences of being busted or committing violent crimes in a “sensitive place.”

Take 18-year old Romeo Barner, for instance. The teen was busted with a handgun back in June at a Red Line station on the south side of Chicago, but was quickly released by a judge after posting a $500 bond. This past weekend Barner was back in court, however; this time charged with robbery on Chicago Transit Authority property. In fact, he was one of several defendants facing similar charges who appeared in bond court on Sunday.

Barner and two others allegedly robbed a 29-year-old man on the Red Line near Roosevelt around 7:30 p.m. on October 30.

The victim told police that Barner and two others were on his train car when Barner commented that he liked the chain the victim was wearing, prosecutors said. That comment made the victim feel unsafe, so he moved to a different train car, but the trio followed him.

In the second car, a woman grabbed the chain from the man’s neck, and all three offenders began punching the victim in the face and body. Prosecutors said the victim tried to push the offenders off the train, but they continued attacking him until he moved to a third car.

According to CWB Chicago, Barner is now being held on $55,000 bond, but could still be released with an ankle monitor if he comes up with 10% of the total bond.

While Barner isn’t accused of having a gun during the commission of the robbery, one of his fellow attendees in bond court is facing armed robbery charges, and prosecutors say he’s admitted to at least five incidents on Chicago’s Blue Line in less than a month.

Prosecutors have charged a Chicago man with robbing a passenger on the CTA Blue Line, and they say he has admitted to committing five robberies on the train line since October 22.

Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered Arshawn Gallaway held without bail during a court hearing Sunday afternoon. McCarthy pointed to his admissions as a reason for her bail decision, even though prosecutors have not charged him with the other four robberies.

Around 3:11 p.m. on October 22, a man was riding the Blue Line, and by the time the train reached Cicero, only he and Gallaway remained on the train car, prosecutors said.

Gallaway approached the victim, flashed a handgun from his waistband, and demanded money. Prosecutors said Gallaway changed his mind and ordered the victim to hand over his phone instead.

Gallaway allegedly forced the man to log out of his iCloud account and unlock the device. Both men stepped onto the Cicero platform, and Gallaway again flashed his firearm and threatened to kill the victim if he left the platform, prosecutors said. The victim filed a police report as soon as Gallaway was gone.

Galloway is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He’s had at least three felony convictions since 2019, including a robbery conviction, but has apparently spent little time behind bars as a consequence for his crimes. He also apparently viewed Chicago’s public transit system as a target-rich environment where he was unlikely to find armed victims who could fight back, and he’s not alone in that regard. Another case from Chicago’s bond court this past Sunday involved two men who police say were part of a larger group who attacked a Red Line rider last Saturday morning.

The victim was riding a northbound train when five men approached him and asked for cigarettes around 1:42 a.m. Saturday, officials said. When he said he didn’t have any, the group closed in and started beating and robbing him.

Prosecutors said the victim, who lost $30 and cigarettes to the offenders, pulled out a box cutter to stop the attack. The group backed away, allowing him to pull the train’s emergency lever and then jump from the moving rail car at Roosevelt.

The group also exited at Roosevelt and started kicking the victim again. Three offenders escaped. But two others stayed on the platform, and CTA surveillance camera operators sent Chicago police officers to arrest them.

While watching the feed, officers allegedly saw one of the men throw an ammunition magazine into a trash can on the platform.

Prosecutors said the victim identified Gavon Easter, 19, and Terrance Hardy, 21, as two of the men who attacked and robbed him.

The 19-year old has also had previous contacts with police, including a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from an assault at another CTA station back in July and felony charges for possessing a stolen motor vehicle in September.

Illinois’ ban on concealed carry on public transportation not only prevents responsible gun owners who depend on buses and trains to get around from protecting themselves throughout the course of their day, it’s empowering violent criminals to attack their largely defenseless victims with impunity since on the rare occasion when an arrest is made the criminal justice system typically delivers a slap on the wrist before sending them on their way.

The Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms in self-defense in public, but anti-gun Democrats insist that doesn’t actually apply to public transportation. Instead of being an armed citizen, you’re just supposed to be a cooperative victim and hope that your attacker doesn’t injure or kill you anyway. It’s an unconscionable mentality as far as I’m concerned, but more importantly, one that I believe the courts will find unconstitutional as well.