With one Lake View man’s help, police arrested three violent robbers over the weekend after a group of men jumped a 23-year-old Garfield Ridge man, beating him in the street and robbing him, police say.
“I hear something going on, look over and see a guy on the ground with all these guys around him – one’s standing on his stomach, one on his throat, one’s kneeling on him and punching his face,” said Jeff Graveline, 27, a bartender at Trader Todd’s on Sheffield Avenue.
Graveline said he was leaving the bar with his girlfriend Saturday morning around 12:45 a.m. near the corner of Belmont and Sheffield avenues when he saw the robbery begin in front of the former Diplomat Hotel.
According to the police report, the man was intoxicated when he was jumped. The four attackers stopped only when Graveline intervened, yanking them off the intoxicated man curled up on the pavement.
“I pulled one guy off him and screamed, ‘What are you guys doing?’” Graveline said. “They started getting mouthy, threatening to kick my ass. But when they started walking away, the guy they robbed said they took his wallet and phone, to I started yelling at them to give them back.”
“Someone shoved a gun in my back three years ago, and it was petrifying. I just had a flashback to that, and I wondered what would have happened if someone helped me.”
Graveline says two of the offenders ran up to him and got really aggressive and “in my face” before walking away from the scene. That’s when the bouncer at Trader Todd’s called the police.
Officers arrived within seconds, Graveline said, a possible result of the 19th District’s new entertainment detail that launching the very same weekend. It puts more officers around Lake View’s hottest bar scenes so they can respond even faster.
And although Graveline said the victim was looking rough after the beating, police asked him, Graveline and his girlfriend to hop into the squad car in an attempt to find the suspects. Police say moments later, the team identified the four men on the sidewalk.
But getting them in custody was the hardest part.
“He slams on the brakes, jumps out and orders them all to the ground,” Graveline said. “They all did except one guy who just bolted. And then the main guy who was up in my face got up and started fighting with the cop. He even had his tazer out, but he didn’t use it. They fought for a good minute before the guy slipped out of his jacket.”
Police say they caught the 25-year-old man who initially bolted, but the suspect who fought the officer got away. He is 20-years-old. Police also recovered the man’s stolen wallet and cell phone from the men, and he's in good condition.
"Terrell Williams, 18, of the 3300 block of Western Ave. in Park Forest, Ill., and William Brown, 25, of the 300 block of S. Western in Chicago each were charged with one count of Robbery," police wrote in a release. "Dontay Underwood, 19, of the 500 block of W. Chestnut in Chicago was charged with one count of Robbery, one count of Resisting a Peace Officer, and Issuance of Warrant for an outstanding warrant."
The three appeared in bond court Jan. 20.
“The whole reason I jumped into the fight in the first place is because I got mugged when I lived in Wicker Park,” Graveline said. “Someone shoved a gun in my back three years ago, and it was petrifying. I just had a flashback to that, and I wondered what would have happened if someone helped me.”
And then Graveline said something local police have been touting for months: be smart. Commander Elias Voulgaris and Sgt. Jason Clark have been making the rounds to local beat and neighborhood meetings plugging that people need to think like a criminal and not be an easy victim.
“I wish this stuff didn’t happen,” Graveline said. “I wish people would take a more active roll in being aware of their surroundings. When stuff like this happens, don’t necessarily jump into the fight, but absolutely call the police.”
Editor's note: Jeff Graveline is a contracted Patch employee that occassionally writes for the publication's suburban news websites.