Alleged Argyle CTA attacker, mistakenly released, is back in custody

Kenneth Ray, who was mistakenly released from custody last month after police arrested him in connection with an attack at the Argyle Red Line station that the FBI said may have been a hate crime, is back in jail. But the story grew stranger this week when prosecutors revealed that a slur Ray allegedly yelled at the Asian victim was not anti-Asian. It was the n-word.

CWBChicago was first to report that Ray had been mistakenly released from custody on October 4. Officials secured an arrest warrant for him from Judge Daniel Gallagher two days later, and the sheriff’s office tracked him down. He was in court this week.

Kenneth Ray (inset) and surveillance images of the attacker. | FBI; CCSO

The attack

Around 1:15 p.m. on August 15, a man wearing a White Sox hat and distinctive jewelry followed a 30-year-old Asian man and the man’s partner into the Argyle station and struck him in the head from behind, causing the victim to fall on a staircase, according to police and prosecutors.

“When asked the reason for the assault, the suspect advised that the victim deserved it and used an ethnic slur against the victim and the victim’s partner,” the FBI said a month later as the agency asked the public for help identifying the attacker.

The bureau’s Chicago field office decided to publicize the Argyle attack “in hopes of encouraging members of vulnerable populations to report crimes.”

About a week before the FBI took on the case, Chicago police released their own “seeking to identify” bulletin that included images of the attacker. But CPD’s bulletin did not suggest the attack was a hate crime.

The allegations

When Ray, 33, appeared before Judge Mary Marubio for a bond hearing this week, prosecutors provided her with the state’s version of what happened at the Argyle station.

The victim, who is identified as Asian in a CPD report, entered the CTA station with his partner, and the men made their way up to the platform. As they reached a landing, the victim felt someone punch him in the back of the head and he fell to the ground.

When the man looked up, Ray, standing over him with a clenched fist, called him the n-word.

“That’s what you get,” Ray allegedly said. “You deserve it.”

Prosecutors did not mention any anti-Asian statements or suggest hate crime as a motive.

The victim’s partner recorded video of Ray leaving the scene, and the FBI later released the footage with its press release. Another witness also heard Ray call the victim and his partner the n-word, prosecutors said.

Ray has three felony convictions — for theft in 2015 and guns in 2007 and 2008.

Judge Marubio reduced Ray’s bail, which Gallagher set at $250,000 on the warrant, to $75,000. She ordered him to go on electronic monitoring if he posts the mandatory 10% deposit. He remains jailed as of Saturday morning.

In March, two men said Ray punched them in their faces without provocation while shopping at a Walgreens in Andersonville. The men were unable to help prosecutors pursue felony charges in March due to Passover, according to a note in CPD’s arrest report. Gallagher sentenced Ray to six months conditional discharge in the case late last month.

The next day — the day he was supposed to be in felony bond court on the Argyle Red Line attack charges — Ray had another court date in Skokie at 9 a.m. According to court records, he appeared via Zoom and received a sentence of time served for a pending shoplifting charge. Then, he went home without being taken to felony bond court.

Prosecutors this week suggested a mix-up with the two court hearings resulted in Ray being released by mistake. His next court date is October 28.

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