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Motorist charged with murder in violent Near North Side hit-and-run

Zoraleigh Ryan, 55, and her daughter were struck crossing the street by Edgar Roman who then circled back and intentionally ran over the mother a second time, prosecutors said.

A 25-year-old man is facing first-degree murder charges after he was arrested in connection with a fatal hit-and-run Aug. 10, 2020, on the Near North Side.
A 25-year-old man is facing first-degree murder charges after he was arrested in connection with a fatal hit-and-run Aug. 10, 2020, on the Near North Side.
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An Albany Park man struck an Arizona woman with his SUV and then intentionally ran her over again, killing her in front of her teenaged daughter on the Near North Side, Cook County prosecutors said.

Edgar Roman’s SUV was “the equivalent of a loaded gun” when he allegedly rammed his vehicle into Zoraleigh Ryan, an outraged Judge Susana Ortiz said Wednesday before ordering the 25-year-old held on $2 million bail.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) had claimed Monday night’s hit-and-run was tied to the reckless driving of looters downtown, although prosecutors didn’t mention it in court.

They did say Ryan, 55, who was vacationing in the city, had just finished dinner at a steakhouse with her 19-year-old daughter that evening when they decided to walk back to their hotel so they could stop at a convenience store.

When they found the store was closed because of the looting from the night before, they decided to call a driver to take them back to the hotel, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

The mother and daughter — walking in the crosswalk on Hubbard Street at State Street — heard screeching tires and saw Roman’s SUV barreling down on them, making a left turn on Hubbard Street around 10:30 p.m., Murphy said.

Ryan was hit but was conscious and able to talk. Her daughter was also struck but not seriously injured. Roman initially stopped and approached the women, giving Ryan’s daughter a clear view of his face. But when a male witness tried to take his picture, Roman got back into the car and drove away, Murphy said.

Ryan, in pain, remained lying in the street near the curb when less than a minute later, Roman’s SUV was back on Hubbard Street.

The witness grabbed Ryan’s daughter out of the street as Roman “aimed the SUV” at the group, Murphy said. Roman brushed his SUV against the pair before allegedly running over Ryan again, dragging her body under the car for a half-block.

Ryan’s daughter ran to her mother. She was no longer breathing and was later pronounced dead at the scene, Murphy said.

Ryan’s daughter, who suffered a broken wrist and cuts, saw the SUV circle back as the witness pulled her onto the sidewalk. Roman looked at Ryan’s daughter, circled the block a third time and drove off before police arrived.

Police put out an alert with a description of the vehicle, and the SUV was sighted near the Merchandise Mart, where officers got out of their patrol cars with their firearms drawn and ordered Roman out of the vehicle. But he drove through construction barricades and escaped, Murphy said.

An hour later, Roman entered the Albany Park District police station and told officers he had been carjacked and was forced to drive around the city at gunpoint — a claim that was easily disproven by witnesses and surveillance cameras that captured the deadly hit-and-run, prosecutors said.

The SUV was found near the police station and Roman was taken into custody. He initially repeated his carjacking story but later admitted to striking the two women, Murphy said.

Roman was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, filing a false police report and leaving the scene of a crash.

Roman has a prior felony conviction for robbery and misdemeanor convictions for reckless driving and driving without a valid license, prosecutors said.

Roman’s defense attorney said his client lived with his parents and had been working at a Wicker Park restaurant and as a delivery driver while taking GED classes at Wright College.

Ortiz ordered Roman to be barred from driving and recommended he be placed on electronic monitoring if he is able to post bond.

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