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Homeless, mentally ill man allegedly brought 11-year-old to Uptown carjacking

John Daniels, 19, was also involved in a carjacking in February but the victim in that crime chose not to press charges, prosecutors said.

A Bellwood man was arrested May 19, 2021 after taking a baby from their North Chicago home. Adobe Stock Photo

John Daniels, who is homeless and mentally ill, lost his infant son in January, his attorney said.

The next month he was arrested for a carjacking. But the victim didn’t want to press charges against the 19-year-old, Cook County prosecutors said.

Daniels was back in court Monday to face charges in another carjacking in which he allegedly had two accomplices, including an 11-year-old boy.

After listening to the most recent allegations against Daniels, Judge Charles Beach expressed sympathy for the challenges the young man faced, including the unexpected death of his child, but still ordered him held without bail.

“I recognize how that affects a young man, I recognize the difficulty in doing such a thing,” Beach said about ordering Daniels held in Cook County Jail.

“But my job is also to balance the safety of the community... My concern, sir, is that you are a danger to the community.... And that may be very likely based upon some of the things you suffered in your childhood, but unfortunately, that’s not for me to unravel here at this time.”

The judge also took issue with Daniels bringing a child to Saturday’s alleged carjacking in the 600 block of West Buena Avenue.

“You brought along a young man — 11 years of age — to be involved. And I say that because as you, being a senior to that individual by eight years, have a responsibility as an adult in our society to lead young men like that on a straight and narrow path — one of good,” Beach said. “And the example you set on that date is not one of good, it is one of malice.”

The 11-year-old has also been charged as a juvenile and is expected to appear in Juvenile Court on June 14, Chicago police said.

John Daniels
John Daniels
Chicago police

Daniels and the two others approached a 59-year-old man who was getting items out of his parked truck in Uptown around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, prosecutors said. One of Daniels’ accomplices allegedly punched the victim in the face several times and demanded the car keys.

Daniels eventually took the keys from the man and drove away with the stolen vehicle, prosecutors said.

A neighbor, who heard the commotion, walked to the window and captured the tail end of the incident on a cellphone, prosecutors said. Daniels can be seen on the video standing over the victim and grabbing the keys out of his hand, prosecutors said.

The victim, who suffered a broken left orbital bone, was taken to an area hospital, prosecutors said.

After the vehicle was flagged by police as stolen, Daniels crashed the car into a metal fence as he attempted to elude officers in West Garfield Park later that day, prosecutors said.

He tried to flee on foot, but lost his white sneakers and fell before he was taken into custody in the 4200 block of West Van Buren Street, prosecutors said.

Daniels was allegedly wearing the same black jeans and white hoodie with gray coloring across the chest that he was seen in the witness’ cellphone video. He later identified himself in photo stills from officers’ body cameras and the witness’ cellphone video, prosecutors said. He also allegedly admitted to taking the victim’s keys and driving the car.

A bond forfeiture warrant was issued for Daniels on April 2 after he failed to appear in court for a pending felony theft case, prosecutors said. He also has two 2016 juvenile convictions for theft and battery, prosecutors said.

In February’s carjacking, Daniels allegedly approached that victim with a gun and took the person’s car keys and credit card, prosecutors said.

Daniels, a former ward of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, has been getting assistance from Covenant House and the Chicago Coalition for Homeless, Assistant Public Defender Genevieve O’Toole told Beach. He also suffers from bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, O’Toole said.

Daniels on Sunday went to Stroger Hospital where he told about therapy, his defense attorney said.

“My client has a lot of mental health issues and in light of the fact that he was ward of Cook County, he needs help,” O’Toole said, asking Beach not to lock her client up and “throw away the key.”

While Beach didn’t grant Daniels bail, he did tell him he hopes “that this is a turning point in some way for your life.”

Daniels is expected back in court May 26.