Only 1 felony charge filed after cops arrest 5 and recover 2 hijacked SUVs on North Side

Victor Costello | CPD

Investigators were optimistic when police arrested five people and recovered two hijacked vehicles along with a third stolen car inside a Rogers Park parking garage on Thursday afternoon.

One of the hijacked SUVs had been taken at gunpoint less than 45 minutes earlier from a woman in Lakeview. The other, a Porsche Cayenne, was taken in a violent carjacking in North Park the night before.

Police publicly linked the Porsche carjacking with three other violent crimes in a community alert this week, including the shooting of a Bucktown restaurant owner during a hijacking attempt last month.

But prosecutors have only filed felony charges against one of the men that police took into custody on Thursday, and none of them is charged with carjacking. CWBChicago has learned that one of the men charged with misdemeanors is on parole for aggravated robbery.

While detectives continue to investigate, the lack of serious charges appears to be the latest example of police having difficulty securing hijacking charges against suspects.

Cops responded to a call of about ten people acting suspiciously and trying to steal a car in the Target parking garage, 6422 North Sheridan, around 4:45 p.m. Thursday, according to prosecutors and police.

When officers arrived, they saw a Jeep Compass, a Hyundai Tucson, and a Porsche Cayenne traveling toward the garage exit, prosecutors said Saturday. The cars backed up as police arrived, and the Jeep pulled away into the garage.

Suddenly, the occupants of all three vehicles got out and ran. Police detained some in the garage and others in the immediate area after foot chases. Still others are believed to have escaped.

The Jeep’s driver, 19-year-old Victor Costello of Wilmette, was arrested after police learned that the vehicle had been reported stolen in that city on Monday, prosecutors said. He allegedly had the Jeep’s key in his possession. Prosecutors charged him with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Tristan Nichols-Sanders in July 2021 | CPD

Costello is currently serving a five-year probation sentence out of Georgia for a cocaine-related offense, prosecutors said during his bond hearing on Saturday. His public defender said he works as a roofer.

“I want this young man in the house 24-7, no exceptions,” Judge Susana Ortiz said as she ordered Costello to pay a $1,000 bail bond deposit to go home on electronic monitoring.

The other four people are each charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal trespass to vehicle and reckless conduct: Zyavion Randolph, 18; Taijay Brown, 19; an unnamed 16-year-old boy; and 22-year-old Tristan Nichols-Sanders, according to a CPD spokesperson.

Nichols-Sanders and a different 16-year-old boy were charged in 2017 with violently robbing a 15-year-old in Evanston, according to an archived Sun-Times story:

They rode up to him on bicycles about 8:30 p.m in the 800 block of Dobson Street and asked him what grade his was in and if he was at a park earlier, according to police.

He kept walking and turned north on Ridge Avenue when the two ran up to him, tackled him to ground from behind and began to kick and punch him in the head and body, police said. While he was on the ground, the two robbers took his cell phone and cash from his pocket and ran away.

Prosecutors entered into a plea deal with Nichols-Sanders that allowed him to plead guilty to a reduced charge of felony theft in exchange for a sentence of two years second-chance probation in December 2018.

Four months later, while on probation, he allegedly committed another robbery in Skokie. He received a four-year sentence from Judge Timothy Chambers and is currently on parole for that case, according to court records.

On July 10, Nichols-Sanders was arrested in Rogers Park and charged with criminal trespass to a vehicle, but prosecutors dropped the charges three weeks later, records show. The reason for the dismissal was not immediately available.

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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