Man shot during three armed robberies within minutes and blocks of each other in River North

The attacks occurred less than a day after a police commander promised more weekend patrols to stem a spike in crime in the downtown neighborhood.

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A woman has been charged with killing her newborn child last fall in Leyden Township.

A man was shot during a robbery September 9, 2021 in River North.

Adobe Stock Photo

At least one person was shot during three armed robberies just minutes and blocks apart in River North early Thursday — less than a day after a police commander promised more weekend patrols to stem a spike in crime in the downtown neighborhood.

Detectives “have some solid leads” after the Wednesday night robbery spree and he is “hopeful there will be a development in the next 24-to-48 hours,” said Downtown Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

“They did recover the stolen vehicle that was used in the robberies and they’ve got some video surveillance,” said Hopkins. The crimes occurred in the 42nd Ward, but not far from the border of Hopkins’ ward.

One of the attacks occurred around 2:15 a.m. in the 200 block of West Erie Street, according to police.

A woman and two men were sitting in a parked car when three people got out of a black SUV and announced robbery, police said. One of the men, 31, struggled with one of the robbers and was shot in the back.

His friends took him to Rush University Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition.

The woman told police she was robbed of two purses, and the other man in the car said his wallet and iPhone was stolen.

About 15 minutes earlier, two people were walking in the 600 block of North LaSalle Street when four robbers got out of a gray SUV, police said.

One of them held a gun while they stole an iPhone, police said. No one was injured.

The third attack occurred around 1:45 a.m. in the 300 block of West Ontario street, police said.

Three people were walking down the street when three gunmen got out of a black SUV and stole their phone and wallets, police said. No one was injured in that attack.

No one was reported in custody, and police did not say whether they believed the attacks were connected.

On Wednesday afternoon, police officials told a neighborhood meeting they were increasing nightly foot patrols in River North on weekends after a recent uptick in violent crime.

“This is going to be a permanent presence,” Deputy Chief Mike Barz told residents gathered at Moe’s Cantina during a monthly Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting for the 18th District.

Newly appointed 18th District Cmdr. Jon Hein declined to say how many additional officers were being deployed to River North during the weekends, or whether patrols were also being stepped up during the week.

Thursday morning, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said he was awaiting details from CPD, but “it does sound like several incidents may have involved the same crew.”

Last week, Reilly sent an email to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown expressing “extreme frustration and concern” with the lack of police resources downtown amid a troubling spike in violent crime.

The promised increase in police presence that came in response was evident Wednesday night, Reilly said.

“There was excellent police coverage last night. I saw it with my own eyes and even saw our new commander walking the beat in River North last night,” Reilly wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.

“There is a noticeable police presence in the areas that have historically been hotspots. And I appreciate the work the 18th District Police are doing overnight. Unfortunately these incidents occurred after the River North nightlife venues shutdown for the night and I suspect cops were being redeployed shortly before these incidents occurred. 

But that’s just an educated guess at this point. I need to speak with CPD … in more detail first.”

Hopkins called the incidents part of a “disturbing increase in robbery sprees where the same crew of offenders commit multiple robberies downtown in a short period of time.”

The fact that the latest robbery spree occurred after a marked increase in police presence in downtown and River North underscore how bold criminals have become and how difficult it will be to change their behavior, Hopkins said.

“They’re operating with impunity. We can’t simply announce an increased police presence Downtown and expect that that will frighten criminals away. There’s a perception right now … that you can engage in criminal behavior downtown without fear of being arrested. It’s going to take some time to change that perception,” Hopkins said.

“I’m encouraged by what I’m hearing from the police superintendent. The fact that they decided to have that outdoor roll call is a step in the right direction. But it’s not going to change things overnight. It requires a tactical adjustment that we’re only now beginning to make.”

It also requires a “change in philosophy from the judicial system,” Hopkins said.

“We have to have a state’s attorney’s office and judges who recognize that armed violent offenders need to be incarcerated,” the alderman said.

Two killings occurred last month in the 18th District, compared to zero from the same time period last year, according to police data.

Overall, however, murders have fallen 33% in the district since this year, records show. But shootings have increased this year by 21%, up from 24 to 29. Sexual assaults and motor vehicle thefts are on the rise, too, records show.

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