If you want to legally protect yourself while riding public transportation in Chicago, your options are fairly limited. The state of Illinoisb prohibits the possession or carrying of firearms on public transit, while the Chicago Transit Authority bans “any weapon”, whether a firearm, pepper spray, stun gun, or any other self-defense tool. That doesn’t stop violent criminals from regularly targeting bus and rail passengers, and those offenders are often armed in violation of state law. Even an unarmed assailant can pose a deadly threat to riders, especially if they’re unable to fight back.
That appears to be the case with a 61-year-old woman who suffered severe injuries after being assaulted on a CTA train in downtown Chicago. As the website CWB Chicago reports, the woman is now brain dead after she was attacked last week. The suspect? An eight-time felon currently on parole for robbery.
Surveillance video showed [Mijawon] Johnson trying to steal the Uptown woman’s bag on a train car near State-Lake around 1:33 a.m. on January 4, officials said. He soon launched a violent attack, pinning her head on a seat and repeatedly punching her in the head and stomach, the detention petition said. Officials said he “stomped” on her body and left her on the train.
CTA employees found the woman unresponsive when the train arrived at the Roosevelt station.
Prosecutors told Judge Fahy that the woman was “on a ventilator and is brain dead” and was “not expected to survive.”
Investigators identified Johnson as the attacker and sent a bulletin to local police districts, according to a CPD report. On the day after the attack, officers on patrol saw Johnson on a CTA bus in the 700 block of West Chicago. They pulled the bus over and took him into custody.
He is charged with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery, according to court records. Prosecutors also charged him with violating an order of protection for allegedly entering a 27-year-old Old Town woman’s residence on New Year’s Eve after being ordered to stay away.
This sickening attack wouldn’t have happened if Johnson hadn’t been cut loose from prison last August after serving just half of a six-year sentence for a 2021 robbery where his victim turned out to be an undercover Chicago police officer. Thanks to Illinois’s soft-on-crime approach, however, Johnson was able to leave his prison cell long before his sentence was up, and based on the evidence submitted by prosecutors, the prospect of being returned to prison for violating his parole wasn’t enough to keep him on the straight and narrow.
We probably won’t see any press releases from groups like Moms Demand Action or Giffords about this assault. No firearm was involved, so as far as the gun controllers are concerned this never happened. But I can’t help but think that if the state of Illinois didn’t prohibit lawful concealed carry on its property there’s at least a chance that this woman would have survived her injuries. Even if she wasn’t carrying at the time there might have been another rider who could have come to her defense, but the CTA’s status as a “gun-free zone” made that a highly unlikely possibility. The state’s prohibition gives violent criminals on public transit the upper hand over their victims, and I pray that the federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s ban on concealed carry in public transportation will be successful, because there’s no way that the Democratic legislative majority or Gov. J.B. Pritzker would undo this damaging statute themselves.