Bucktown carjacking ends with gun charges against paroled robber

Rontelle Randolph | CPD

Cops needed less than 20 minutes to locate a Jeep Compass that armed carjackers took from a driver in Bucktown early Sunday. The victim’s phone was still in the SUV, and officers followed its GPS signal to find the car in a parking lot in the 3100 block of West Madison.

As officers pulled up, Rontell Randolph, a 24-year-old who’s on parole for robbery, ran from the side of the Jeep while holding his waistband, prosecutors said. After police chased him down, officers retraced their steps and found a gun that Randolph allegedly ditched.

But Randolph is not charged with taking the Jeep. Instead, prosecutors charged him with Class X armed habitual criminal and two misdemeanor gun violations.

Judge John Lyke set bail at $10,000 and ordered Randolph to go on electronic monitoring if he posts 10% of that amount. Randolph is not eligible for release from jail quite yet. The state is holding him until authorities determine if they will revoke his parole in the 2017 robbery for which he received a seven-year sentence in 2016. He also received a four-year sentence for possessing a stolen firearm that year.

Randolph’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood, noted that police never actually saw him inside the hijacked Jeep — only next to it.

Chicago police are having difficulty getting full-blown vehicular hijacking charges approved by prosecutors because many victims cannot identify the arrestees as the people who took their cars.

Many people who are found driving and riding in hijacked vehicles are released from the police station on recognizance bonds within hours because they only face misdemeanor violations like criminal trespass to a vehicle.

“I understand some of the frustration is felony versus misdemeanor, that all comes from witness identification,” Lt. Thomas Keene told residents at a Bucktown-Wicker Park community meeting late last month. “What that person’s role in the crime was and who can identify them. Can the witness identify them, can the victim identify them?”

Our exclusive and original reporting is 100% reader-funded. Please contribute to our operating fund or purchase a subscription today.

About CWBChicago 6712 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