Nailed it! Cops arrest CTA hammer attack suspect after another passenger is struck on Red Line

Police on Tuesday morning arrested a suspect in connection with a series of hammer attacks on the CTA after another victim was attacked while riding a Red Line train, according to a CPD statement.

Around 5:11 a.m., an offender struck a 50-year-old man in the head with a hammer as they rode a northbound train downtown, according to a CPD report. The attacker exited at Clark-Division while the victim continued to Fullerton, where he sought help from CTA workers.

Police said the victim was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with a cut to his forehead. His injuries were not life-threatening.

Police escort a suspect in a series of hammer attacks aboard the CTA into the 19th District station in Lakeview (left) after he was allegedly found with a hammer (right) at the Belmont Red Line station. | CPD

CPD’s Mass Transit Unit searched for the attacker and arrested a suspect at the Belmont CTA station in Lakeview shortly before 6 a.m., according to a source. A hammer was also recovered. The investigation is ongoing. Police released a photo of the handcuffed suspect wearing red shoes entering the 19th District police station in Lakeview.

The arrest comes six days after police released surveillance images of a man wearing red shoes who was wanted for a series of hammer attacks on CTA buses, trains, and platforms. A source said the man seen in the surveillance photos is the same man who attacked people with a hammer in Lakeview last month.

Police said the attacker struck a man in the head with a hammer on the Addison Red Line station platform at 2:07 a.m. on August 18 and linked him to similar attacks on a CTA bus in the 3500 block of West Addison at 3:27 p.m. July 21, on the Ashland Green Line platform at 11:10 a.m. on August 6, and on the Monroe Red Line platform at midnight on August 13.

Not included in the CPD alert was a series of attacks involving a hammer across Lakeview in July.

Shortly before 9 p.m. on July 14, the man chased after a CTA customer while wielding a hammer on the Belmont station’s northbound platform, 945 West Belmont. He threw the victim’s backpack and other property onto the tracks and fled with the man’s phone, according to information provided to CWBChicago last month by a source. Witnesses saw the man running down the station’s stairs with a hammer. Officers drove that victim to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center for treatment.

According to dispatch records, about four hours after that incident, 911 callers reported that a man was trying to attack people with a hammer along the 3400 block of North Halsted in Boystown.

The next evening, a passenger was battered while sitting on a CTA bus on the 3700 block of North Broadway. The offender ran toward Halsted Street, and the victim refused to cooperate with police, officers at the scene said. Officers who reviewed surveillance images of the attacker said he was the same person responsible for the Belmont station attack.

We reported last month that CPD’s strategic support center distributed a bulletin about the man to officers, but CPD did not share that information with the public. According to CPD’s internal bulletin, he was suspected of committing other crimes, including robberies, in the area, a source said.

CWBChicago will post an update if charges are approved against the man who is in custody.

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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