Chicago, IL – A 25-year-old law student robbed on a Red Line train said today he believes he was targeted because of his high-tech cell phone.
Five teenagers were charged in connection with the robbery on the L.
After a night of studying ahead of final exams at DePaul University, the victim — who asked that his name not be publicized out of concern over retaliation — said he boarded an inbound train for his North Side home.
When he noticed the group of teens already on board, he sat with others on the other end of the train car. As he tapped away on his touch-screen smart phone, he noticed that the group seemed to edge closer and closer to him.
As the group exited the train at the Grand Avenue stop, one of teens tried grabbing the phone from the victim, which led to a momentary back-and-forth struggle, he said.
The assailant then struck the victim on the side of the face and said, “Gimme the phone.” Some of the other teens chimed in, saying, “Give up the phone,” and the victim released his grip on the phone.
The victim is Jewish and wears a yarmulke, and while the teens were African-American he said the group said nothing to him that appeared directed at his ethnicity or religion.
Police earlier said they were investigating the possibility he might have been targeted because of ethinicity or religion, but they leter determined that was not the case.
“I felt like I was just a random victim,” he said. “I felt like (the robber) saw a guy with his phone out at the right place at the right time,” he said today in a telephone interview.
The victim continued on the train, getting off at the Division Street exit and notifying police.
Patrol officers sent out a flash message giving a description of the attackers, and Public Transportation officers responded, arresting all five suspects as they tried to leave the Grand Avenue stop. Police recovered the phone from one of the suspects and returned it to the victim within the hour.
Charged with misdemeanor assault was Michael McCann, 18, of the 7100 block of South Calumet Avenue. In addition, four juveniles — ages 13 through 15 — were charged with robbery, said Officer Robert Perez, a Chicago police spokesman.