Emanuel: Attack on son unmasked security ‘blind spots’ that must be addressed

SHARE Emanuel: Attack on son unmasked security ‘blind spots’ that must be addressed

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday his 17-year-old son was on his cellphone with a college counselor when he was attacked from behind by two unarmed men on the Ravenswood street where the mayor lives.

Emanuel was tight-lipped about the Dec. 19 mugging, except to say that it unmasked “blind spots” in security on his block that the Chicago Police Department needs to address.

“Zach is doing fine. I can’t say that about his parents. But he’s doing fine. And that tells you something about the resilience of teenagers,” the mayor said.

“You have a role to play as a press and I get that. I have a role to play as — not just the mayor, but also as a father. So, I hope you respect his privacy as a teenager. … But he is good and, to be honest, it’s also good that we had time as a family together” while on vacation in Chile.

The mayor said the unidentified college counselor on the other end of the cellphone at the time of the attack “heard stuff.” But Emanuel stopped short of characterizing the counselor as a “witness.”

“I’m gonna try to balance your desire and your responsibility and your job to ask questions. … And I’m also gonna try to do this also in a way that’s respectful of him. He’s a teenager, and he’s a minor. He has some privacy. He was on the phone with his college counselor. They obviously heard stuff,” he said.

Last week, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said his office would review security at the mayor’s home — and, presumably, of Emanuel’s wife and three teenaged children — “to see if there’s a way to improve it.” McCarthy said he would also take another look to make certain the right officers were assigned to the mayor’s security detail.

But McCarthy bristled at a reporter’s question about how his officers might have been better positioned at the mayor’s house.

“The officers are sitting on the mayor’s house. … They are not sitting on the mayor’s neighborhood,” the superintendent said.

On Monday, Emanuel agreed that the attack unmasked a security weakness. But with less than two months to go before the mayoral election, he was careful not to ask for special favors.

“As it relates to either my or my family’s safety, I want you to know that we are fortunate — not only with this job, but also with what the public provides us,” the mayor said.

“Obviously, Garry McCarthy has addressed this. There are some blind spots and they’re gonna address it from a safety on the block — not the safety of the house [issue] for us. And I’ll leave that to them to do because that’s their job to do. But it’s their job to do it for everybody in the city — not just us.”

A copy of the police report, with the victim’s name redacted, contains only the most basic and previously reported details of the Dec. 19 “strong-arm” robbery without a weapon that rocked the Emanuel household before the family left for a Christmas vacation in Chile.

It states that two male offenders between the ages of 18 and 20 — both roughly 5 feet 10 or 11 inches tall and wearing dark clothing — attacked Zach Emanuel from behind as the mayor’s teenaged son was talking on a cellphone while walking northbound in the 4200 block of North Hermitage, where he lives.

The weapon used was described as “hand/feet/teeth/etc.” Zach Emanuel was attended at his residence by a personal physician for a laceration and blunt force trauma to the mouth and face,” according to the report.

No arrests have been made in connection with the mugging of the mayor’s son.

“Offender #1 placed his arm around the victim’s neck in a rear choke hold, at which point Offender #2 struck the victim about the face with a closed fist, knocking the victim to the ground,” said the police report, released to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to a Freedom of Information request.

“The victim subsequently dropped his cellphone to the ground, at which point the offenders took the cellphone and patted him down. The offenders then asked the victim, ‘What else you got?’ The offenders then forced the victim to enter his security code to unlock the phone. The offenders then fled southbound on Hermitage on foot.”

Immediately after the mugging, aides described the mayor as “crestfallen” about the attack on his son.

On Monday, the mayor thanked Chicagoans who had expressed concern about Zach’s condition. But the mayor’s demeanor can only be described as dispassionate — so much so that he launched into a discussion of, what he calls the “four P’s” needed to fight crime: prevention, parenting, policing and penalties.

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