18-year-old with a shockingly violent past is charged with carjacking a man at gunpoint – while awaiting trial for armed robbery

Kendale Cowans | CPD

Eight months into life as a legal adult, 18-year-old Kendale Cowans sits in Cook County Jail this morning. He’s being held without bail after prosecutors on Tuesday charged him with carjacking a man on a South Side CVS store’s parking lot over the weekend.

Cowans spent time in the juvenile department of corrections for aggravated robbery in 2016. And more time for another aggravated robbery the same year. And he was also convicted of shooting someone in 2016. He spent a year and three months in juvenile custody for that.

And he still has an armed robbery case pending in juvenile court.

Yet, there he was on that CVS parking lot around 9:10 p.m. Sunday.

Assistant State’s Attorney Gail Bembnister said a 49-year-old man was sitting in a car on the lot while waiting for an appointment when Cowans opened his driver’s door and pointed a handgun at him.

Cowans ordered the man out of the car and drove away with the vehicle while an apparent accomplice ran from the scene, Bembnister said.

Cops responding to the victim’s 911 call saw the stolen car speeding nearby and watched as it crashed into a fence. Cowans jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran away with police on his tail, according to Bembnister. They caught him about 9 minutes after the hijacking, and the victim identified him as the man who ordered him out of the car at gunpoint, she said.

Cowans allegedly gave police a fake name — Elijah Mays — and a phony birth date. They figured out his true identity when they fingerprinted him, Bembnister said.

He is now charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm, criminal damage to property, and obstructing identification.

Assistant Public Defender Suzin Farber said Cowans is a high school senior who suffers from mental health issues.

Judge Charles Beach granted a prosecution request to have Cowans held without bail on the carjacking charge. Beach also ordered Cowans held on a warrant for the robbery that’s still pending in juvenile court.

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