Chicago police defused a tense situation Wednesday evening as an alleged shoplifter, bleeding profusely from knife wounds and cuts from glass, walked through Boystown’s Halsted Street nightlife district while refusing to speak with officers.
The incident ended safely as officers kept their distance and the man walked himself into Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center for treatment.
It all began at 9:37 p.m. when the man allegedly tried to steal merchandise from Jewel-Osco, 3531 North Broadway, according to Chicago police and dispatch records.
The man became agitated and aggressively approached a store employee who stopped him near the grocery store’s exit, according to CPD spokesperson Kellie Bartoli. He shoved a 20-year-old woman who tried to intervene and then struck a 42-year-old man in the mouth, Bartoli said.
Police said the male victim then pulled out a pocket knife to defend himself and subsequently cut the alleged shoplifter during a physical altercation. The alleged thief exited the store, broke a plate glass window, climbed back inside the store, and chased several people, according to Bartoli.
He then allegedly punched a 44-year-old man and climbed back out through the broken window.
Police officers found the man, shirtless and bleeding heavily, as he walked south on Halsted from Addison a few minutes later. He repeatedly ignored offers of help from police, who grew concerned that the incident may escalate since police would need to detain the man after a victim at the store decided to pursue charges.
Cops trailed the man for almost a mile before he turned west on Wellington Avenue. That’s when officers realized that he might be walking himself to Masonic for treatment.
“This gentleman is walking to Masonic,” an officer said on police radio. “Notify their security.”
Outside the hospital emergency bay, the man turned and walked through a crowd of on-lookers, many of whom were recording the incident with their phones.
“Cops handled it very well,” said Michael Nixon, who was in the crowd of about 20 people. Police encouraged the by-standers to direct the man into the hospital, Nixon said.
“He was walking around us and we all encouraged him to help himself by going into the hospital.”
The man, chest covered with blood, then approached a group of officers across the street and raised his hands. As he got closer, officers backed away and a sergeant raised his own hands.
“We don’t want any problems,” the sergeant is heard saying on video recorded by Nixon. “We just wanna get you some help.”
The man eventually walked up the ramp to an emergency entrance where a hospital worker coaxed him inside.
A few minutes later, the 19th District’s watch commander hopped on the radio.
“I want to thank all the units that responded to the call with the individual who is in distress and also an offender,” she said. “Excellent display of professionalism…So glad that all the officers are safe and also that our subject is seeking treatment.”
Bartoli said the man was treated for multiple lacerations that police believe were sustained when he entered and exited the grocery store through its broken window. He is now in police custody and charges are pending, she said.