Parolee arrested for robbery after victim fights back: “I pepper sprayed the sh*t out of that mother f’er!”

Earl Cross is charged with attempted aggravated robbery, police said. | CPD; Google

Earl Cross has spent most of his adult life in prison, being paroled most recently on July 16th, according to state records. But, Saturday evening, he met his match when he tried to rob a 24-year-old law student near downtown.

“I pepper sprayed the sh*t out of that mother f’er,” the victim said.

Cops confirm the woman’s story, saying they caught up with 63-year-old Cross just a couple of doors away from the victim’s condo building after he stopped and asked a security guard for some water.

Police said the victim was waiting for an elevator at her home in the 1400 block of South Michigan Avenue around 10 p.m. when Cross approached her and said, “give me $20.” Cross had his hand under his coat, indicating that he was armed with a gun, according to court records. “He threatened to kill me,” the woman said.

When the woman tried to call 911, Cross wrestled her for control of her phone. She won the struggle and retrieved pepper spray from her purse.

Then, she let loose with the pepper juice. Cross ran into the street, unable to breathe, the woman said. “Don’t be afraid to spray them with it until it’s all gone,” the woman said, advising both men and women to pack a supply of defense spray. “It could save your life and your property.”

Police received a second 911 call a few minutes after the victim’s. A security guard up the street said a man had just entered his building lobby begging for water because he had been pepper sprayed. It was Cross, cops said. They arrested him and he was quickly identified by the victim as the man who tried to rob her, police said.

Cross is charged with aggravated robbery while indicating the presence of a firearm. Judge Michael Clancy ordered him held without bail.

State records show that Cross has been sentenced to a combined 48 years in prison over the past 32 years. Most recently, he was paroled on July 16th after serving eight months of a two-year prison term for criminal damage to government property in Uptown. His previous sentences include:

• Six-and-a-half years for burglary in 2013
• Thirty months for theft in 2011
• Eighteen months for theft with a previous felony conviction in 2010
• Two years for retail theft in 2008
• Two years for theft in 2007
• 18 months for theft in 2006
• Nine years for burglary in 2000
• Eight years for burglary in 1996
• Six years for burglary in 1992
• Three years for burglary in 1990
• Four years for burglary in 1986.

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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