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Convicted felon charged in attack on 67-year-old woman on Red Line train

An unidentified offender "viciously punched" an elderly woman on the northbound CTA Red Line train about noon Friday. | Chicago Police Department

A convicted felon was charged Saturday with viciously attacking a 67-year-old woman on a CTA Red Line train.

Derrick McMath, 28, of southwest suburban Worth, was charged with felony aggravated battery in connection with the attack, which happened about noon Thursday in the 1500 block of West Jarvis Avenue, according to Chicago Police.

Derrick McMath | Chicago Police
Derrick McMath | Chicago Police

The woman was on the northbound train going home to Evanston, reading her Kindle, when she was attacked “completely unprovoked” and punched in the face, police said. She suffered a serious injury to her eye.

The man left the train at the Jarvis stop in the Rogers Park neighborhood on the North Side, police said.

About 2:45 p.m. on Friday, McMath allegedly stole a pair of shoes from a store in the 2000 block of North Milwaukee. He was taken into custody and the arresting officers recognized him as the man in surveillance photos distributed that afternoon, police said.

A still from a surveillance camera showing the man police said attacked a woman on the Red Line Thursday. | Chicago Police
A still from a surveillance camera showing the man police said attacked a woman on the Red Line Thursday. | Chicago Police

“After posting this wanted offender’s information to the public and on our social media platforms, a suspect is now in custody and charges are pending in this aggravated battery of a senior,” the department tweeted about 5 p.m. Friday.

Ald. Joe Moore (49th), whose ward includes the Jarvis station, said the sudden and random nature of the attack on the woman takes your breath away.

“She was just sitting on the train. A guy approached her and just clocked her in the face,” Moore said Friday before the arrest was made.

“He didn’t rob her of any of her possessions. He just hit her in the face and moved on. He was acting very angry and aggressive. This is all supposition because they don’t have him yet. But I think he may have been suffering from some mental health issues.”

The arrest came after a series of announcements on social media.

In a tweet earlier Friday asking for the public’s help, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the “unspeakable attack” on the woman was so brutal, “our victim may lose her eyesight.”

Guglielmi posted photos of the suspect taken by the CTA’s vast network of surveillance cameras and asked for the public’s help in identifying the attacker.

At a time when L ridership is already declining, Moore was asked whether he’s concerned the broad daylight attack would have a chilling impact on ridership.

“Hopefully, this is just an isolated incident and not part of a pattern,” he said.

McMath, who was convicted in 2008 of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, was also charged with and one misdemeanor count of retail theft greater than $300, police said.

He was scheduled to appear in bond court Sunday.