Prosecutors: Man choked college student in Loop, robbed man on Brown Line

Jamaal Dennard | CCSO

Prosecutors say a Park Forest man attacked a Columbia College student in the Loop and then beat and robbed a man aboard a Brown Line train in Lincoln Park before police caught up with him days later at a downtown CTA station.

The state charged Jamaal Dennard, 29, with robbery, two counts of aggravated battery in a public place, battery, and criminal damage to government property Friday. Cook County Judge Arthur Willis ordered him held in lieu of $150,000 bail.

An assistant state’s attorney said the charges stem from three separate incidents that unfolded over the course of a week.

Just after midnight on September 21, a 19-year-old female Columbia College student was walking with a friend when a man attacked and choked her near State and Harrison streets. The pair told police the man, who was leaning on a wall, mumbled something as they walked past and then grabbed the woman from behind.

He then put his hands around the student’s neck and squeezed. The woman struggled to breathe and thought she was going to die, prosecutors said Friday. The man eventually released his grip and fled the scene. A Columbia College surveillance camera recorded images of the attacker.

Then, shortly after 10 p.m. on September 23, a 27-year-old man was attacked and robbed as he rode a southbound Brown Line train in Lincoln Park. That victim told police a man jumped him from behind as the train pulled into the Armitage station.

The offender shoved him to the floor, struck and kicked him repeatedly, grabbed his phone, and ran out of the station at 945 West Armitage, he said. An ambulance transported the victim to an unidentified hospital for treatment.

CTA cameras captured the entire incident, and footage showed the attacker’s clothes matched the Columbia College suspect’s, according to prosecutors. The CTA distributed a bulletin with images of the suspect to law enforcement.

Finally, last Monday evening, police responded to a call of a man breaking out the windows of a CTA Red Line train near 35th Street. Video from the train showed a man dressed in the same clothes as the Loop and Lincoln Park attacker causing $1,500 worth of damage to the glass of a train door, prosecutors said. The offender was gone when police arrived.

On Wednesday evening, police arrested Dennard at the Jackson Red Line station after noticing he was wearing clothes that matched the suspect’s, according to CPD records. During questioning, he admitted that he was involved in all three cases, prosecutors said.

Dennard’s public defender told Judge Willis that he has a narcotics problem. Under Willis’ bond order, Dennard must post a $15,000 deposit bond to get out of jail before trial.

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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