Uptown Gun Menace Dies Hijacking Van “Full Of Pot” In California Mining Country, Deputies Say

With police on his tail, Essex bailed from the driver’s seat of a Range Rover on this stretch of Highway 12 in rural California, authorities said. | Google; CPD

An Uptown man who has been awaiting trial for multiple weapons cases in the North Side neighborhood has died in rural Calaveras County, California, after he jumped from a moving SUV that had been used in the robbery of a large marijuana shipment, according to media reports.

Donter Essex, 29, was free on bond while awaiting trial in Chicago for two separate gun charges in Uptown. Now, it looks like he took his criminal show on the road while Cook County’s wheels of justice turned.

| Calaveras County Sheriff

Around 6:45 p.m. on June 28th, Essex was in a group armed men who confronted another group of six men outside the old mining town of Murphys, Californa, police said. The victims were tied up, threatened, beaten, and tortured with a taser before being robbed of their personal belongings, cash, and a U-Haul van that was “filled with marijuana,” according to local news outlet My Mother Lode.  One of the men suffered severe injuries.

The robbers sped off in the pot-filled van and several other vehicles, including a Range Rover that was driven by Essex. Minutes after the robbery was reported, a local deputy saw a caravan composed of  vehicles matching those used in the robbery.

When the deputy and the California Highway Patrol tried to pull Essex over, the Chicagoan accelerated and then “exited out of the Range Rover while it was still traveling at a high rate of speed,” according to the report. Essex was pronounced dead at the scene, and robbery evidence was found next to his body.

Meanwhile, the driverless Range Rover with two passengers continued at a high rate of speed until it crashed through a fence and some trees, police said. The two remaining occupants “were located and placed under arrest with the help of Angels Camp Police Department K9 Thor,” The Mother Lode reported quaintly.

Two more suspects were arrested when the U-Haul van was found nearby.

Two of the arrestees are from the Chicago area: 32-year-old Mark Noble and 38-year-old Dontia Arrington. They and the other two suspects are charged with armed robbery, conspiracy, kidnapping, false imprisonment and torture, according to local news reporting.

Two more men remained at large. They are said to have been speaking Armenian.

Back home, Essex has been awaiting trial for throwing a gun onto the roof of an Uptown Dunkin’ Donuts while being chased by police. He was charged with Class X felony armed habitual criminal; felony unlawful use of a weapon by a felon; two felony counts of aggravated battery of a police officer; two felony counts of resisting police; and misdemeanor resisting arrest. A “friend” posted $10,000 for him to go free awaiting trial.

Last April, cops chased Essex through Uptown after hearing shots fired in the area. They eventually found him hiding on the second-floor deck of a home in the 4600 block of North Kenmore. Essex jumped from the porch to prevent being captured, but he injured his leg in the fall and was taken into custody. A handgun was found in a nearby yard. Bail was set at $1,000, which was quickly posted.

In a separate matter, Essex was also awaiting trial in a case that had him facing twelve felony counts of aggravated battery to police and two felony counts of resisting arrest in Uptown.

All of those cases are now scheduled to be formally resolved pending verification of Essex’s California death certificate.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com