Burglary suspect shot by Chicago smoke shop owner was already on police radar

Burglary suspect shot by Chicago smoke shop owner was already on police radar
AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

An 18-year old shot in the legs while allegedly trying to break in to a Chicago smoke shop is suspected of being involved in at least four separate burglaries since January, but was already known to authorities even before last Sunday’s defensive gun use.

According to the website CWB Chicago, Antonio Mendoza is not only facing a variety of charges in connection with the attempted burglary of Big Lou’s Tobacco Shop, but had been in court as recently as last year facing similar counts.

Detectives linked Mendoza to a series of burglaries in the area since January, including one that occurred “16 feet” from Big Lou’s, according to Dale-Schmidt:

  • On January 2, a woman left her car unlocked while loading the vehicle in the 2600 block of West Lawrence, only to discover that someone stole her purse and wallet while the vehicle was unattended. Dale-Schmidt said surveillance video from a nearby Popeye’s showed Mendoza using the woman’s credit card to make a purchase.
  • On January 14, a burglar stole cash from a laundromat’s management office in the 5100 block of North Lincoln. Mendoza was identified as the burglar from the surveillance video.
  • On March 13, someone broke into a man’s home in the 2700 block of West Gunnison and stole the victim’s wallet. Dale-Schmidt said surveillance footage showed Mendoza using the man’s credit cards to make same-day purchases at Walgreens, CVS, and Exxon.
  • Early on March 16, Mendoza allegedly took cash during a burglary of Nhu Lan Bakery, 2612 West Lawrence.

Mendoza was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile for burglary twice in 2022. He must go on electronic monitoring if he posts bail.

The teen was found guilty of burglary on two different occasions last year, but apparently served little-to-no time in the city’s juvenile detention facility. Now that Mendoza is 18-years-old he’s facing adult charges and the possibility of prison time, but who knows what kind of deal Cook County prosecutors will end up offering him before his trial begins.

Chicago has more than its fair share of repeat offenders like Mendoza, including 35-year old Pierre Lay, who was arrested last month in connection with a brutal attack on a Chicago Transportation Authority employee on a city bus. As Fox News documented at the time of his arrest, Lay too is no stranger to the law.

Pierre Lay, 35, allegedly battered the 30-year-old CTA worker and took her property on March 17 at around 10 p.m.  The incident happened on Chicago’s West Side.

The suspect was arrested by members of Chicago’s Bureau of Counterterrorism Team on Tuesday.

According to the CPD’s website, Lay has been arrested at least 10 times between 2015 and 2022. His past charges included criminal damage to property, aggressive battery and use of a deadly weapon.

The anti-gun Democrats in control of Chicago (and the Illinois state government) have made it their mission to go after legal gun owners while largely ignoring the actual perpetrators of violence, and things aren’t likely to get any better when Mayor Lori Lightfoot is replaced by Brandon Johnson, who campaigned on a platform that spoke of using the state’s “red flag” law more frequently, shutting down the Chicago PD’s gang database, and promising a “more collaborative approach with other levels of government to target gun distributors.” There are some parts of Johnson’s platform that I can agree with, including ending “no-knock warrants” and the use of community-based violence intervention programs that have a track record of success, but the incoming mayor hasn’t had much to say at all about getting tough on repeat offenders like Mendoza and Lay.
With the city’s soft-on-crime approach likely to continue under Johnson’s regime, I expect the number of Chicago residents exercising their Second Amendment rights to armed self-defense to continue to grow. A February poll of Chicago voters found nearly half of them said that crime and public safety was their top concern, and almost 2/3rds of respondents said they feel unsafe in the city. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that more residents are choosing to get a concealed carry license so they can protect themselves in public, and if there was actually a range or a gun store operating inside the Chicago city limits I’m sure the numbers would be even higher than they already are.