There were more than 1,300 carjackings reported in Chicago and surrounding Cook County last year, a 300 percent increase from just a decade ago. 2024 isn’t starting off any better than 2023 ended in the city, but one of the first incidents of the year ended unexpectedly after the victim was able to recover his car before an armed thief drove away.
As CWB Chicago reports, police were dispatched to an address on the city’s south side early Thursday morning on reports of a citizen “holding an offender”. When they arrived, they found 18-year-old Darrius Berry being held at gunpoint by a Chicago man, who told officers he was sitting in his car when Berry walked up to the driver’s side window and politely demanded his keys while pointing a pistol at him.
“Please give me the keys,” Berry told him, according to the report. “I need your car. I’m sorry, sir… Go in the house.”
The victim complied, handed over his keys, and entered his house.
Once he was inside, he grabbed his own gun. Then he went back outside. Berry was sitting behind the steering wheel of the Mazda with a firearm on the passenger seat, the report said.
“If you reach for it, I’ll blow your head off,” the man recalled telling Berry.
He then opened the door to his car, grabbed Berry by the collar, and pulled him to the ground, the report continued.
“Who’s with you?” he asked Berry, thinking there may be accomplices.
“He’s around the corner,” Berry reportedly replied. But the victim said he never saw anyone else.
I’ve covered a lot of carjackings, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever run across a carjacker who said “please” before trying to abscond with someone else’s vehicle. If Berry did point a gun at the victim’s head, though, it really doesn’t matter how genteel his language was. Actions speak louder than words, and that particular act could lead to a felony conviction and at least some time behind bars.
Officers were able to recover the pistol that Berry allegedly used in his courteous carjacking, and determined that it had been reported stolen from another vehicle in the city in late November. Now the young adult is facing a laundry list of charges ranging from aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm to driving in reverse under unsafe conditions, and was ordered held without bail by a Cook County judge.
We’ll see how long that pre-trial detention lasts, and what kind of deal is offered by the Cook County State’s Attorney, but I’d like to think this encounter with an armed citizen will be enough to convince the teen that he doesn’t have much of a future as an outlaw going forward.
Even if that is the case, however, there’s no shortage of violent offenders in Chicago willing to take a life in order to get their hands on a vehicle. At least two people have been murdered in carjacking attempts in the city in the past few weeks, and on Wednesday a 51-year-old rideshare driver was shot and critically injured in a carjacking attempt as he was dropping off a customer. Violent crime is soaring in the Windy City, and residents can’t count on a police officer being around if they’re the target of an attack. It’s up to them to protect themselves, and I hope we see more folks choosing to exercise their own right to keep and bear arms as a result of stories like this.