Prosecutors: Mag Mile panhandler slashed tourist’s throat as victim’s son looked on

A Chicago man was ordered held without bail Wednesday for allegedly slashing the throat of a tourist who refused to give him money in the heart of the Magnificent Mile.

Prosecutors said the 52-year-old victim and his 15-year-old son were waiting for a crosswalk light to change outside Walgreens, 757 North Michigan when Alaxstair Reed walked up and asked for change around 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

Alaxstair Reed is accused of attacking a tourist on the corner of Michigan and Chicago avenues. | CPD; Google

The tourist told Reed he didn’t have any money, but the 39-year-old continued to ask for change, then said, “give me your phone or I’ll kill you,” according to Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto. Reed then allegedly pulled out a knife and slashed the man’s threat, barely missing the victim’s carotid artery.

“There were many people on-scene when this occurred,” Scaduto told Judge Susana Ortiz during Reed’s bond hearing. Passers-by and the victim’s son called 911 while others witnesses flagged down some nearby police officers.

When cops located Reed a couple of blocks away, he was still wearing a distinctive poncho and had a knife in his pants pocket, Scaduto said. The attack, the arrest, and officers’ recovery of the knife were all captured on various cameras, she said.

The victim underwent surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital because the attack knicked some arteries, Scaduto said. She added that he remains hospitalized, but his condition has stabilized.

Prosecutors have charged Reed with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm. Reed gave police a home address in downstate Danville after his arrest, but both Scaduto and Reed’s defense attorney said he actually lives in Chicago.

“He’s very familiar with this location,” Scaduto alleged as she detailed a violent 2001 armed robbery in Old Town that sent Reed to prison for 13 years.

In that case, Reed pointed a gun at a 29-year-old woman after she parked in the 1400 block of North Orleans and said, “give me your money, bitch,” according to Scaduto.

The woman, who only had $1, gave it to him. Reed then reached into her car, grabbed a curling iron, and pistol-whipped the woman in the back of her head when she screamed, Scaduto continued. Police arrested him nearby and allegedly found a handgun in his possession.

In 2009, Reed received a 14-year sentence for a narcotics case in Champaign County. He also received a three-year narcotics sentence in 1998.

“There seems to be something going on with Mr. Reed,” Assistant Public Defender Melissa Delgado said Wednesday.

“I’m not blaming the victims in any way. However, it’s us as a society — especially in Cook County — [who] have failed individuals with mental health issues,” she told Judge Ortiz. Delgado encouraged Ortiz to reject a state request to have Reed held without bail in favor of other conditions such as electronic monitoring with mental health support and other services.

The judge acknowledged that Reed might have mental health conditions, “however that does not make Mr. Reed any less dangerous. In fact, it may make him more dangerous,” she said.

Ortiz reflected on the similarities between the state’s allegations and the 2001 robbery, saying Reed was accused of inflicting injury on both victims after demanding money. She then ordered him held without bail.

A similar case

Sunday’s attack on the Magnificent Mile has some similarities to an attack that left a man dead in River North almost exactly three years earlier. Gino Bassett, now 59, is still awaiting trial for first-degree murder in the crime that left software executive Miguel Beedle fatally stabbed in an alley on the 400 block of North State.

Early on March 23, 2018, Gino Bassett saw Beedle standing outside of a River North bar holding cash, prosecutors said. Surveillance video showed Bassett looking at Beedle from across the street. Later, Bassett allegedly is seen following Beedle into a nearby alley and pushing him forward.

That’s when Bassett allegedly stabbed Beedle in the neck before fleeing to the nearby Grand Red Line station. Video shows 55-year-old Beedle walking out of the alley, holding his neck, and collapsing at the corner of State and Hubbard. He died minutes later.

At the CTA station, Bassett threatened two women with his knife and then boarded a train where cameras captured images of him counting money, sorting credit cards, and holding a knife, prosecutors said. After the murder, Bassett traveled to New York. He was arrested at Union Station when he returned a few days later.

At Bassett’s home, police allegedly recovered a bloody knife with a five-inch blade and a coat matching one that Bassett is seen wearing on CTA footage. Prosecutors said Bassett has previous convictions for armed robbery, burglary, and other felonies.

Bassett — who remains held without bail — suffers from mental disorders, including schizophrenia, his defense attorney said during an initial bond hearing.

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About CWBChicago 6554 Articles
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