17-year-old shot man on Red Line train, paralyzing him from the waist down, prosecutors say

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged a 17-year-old Chicago boy with shooting a passenger aboard a Red Line train at Christmastime, paralyzing the victim from the waist down and causing him to lose the use of his hands.

However, the teen’s defense attorney claims that police have the wrong person and that the teen’s most recent report card shows “three As, two Bs, and a C.”

According to a CPD report and statements made in court Tuesday by prosecutor Danny Hanichak, the 20-year-old victim was on a Red Line platform with his brother and some friends around 7:45 p.m. on December 20, 2021, when he noticed Calvin Merritte staring at him.

The victim and his companions left the station, went to a nearby store, and then returned and boarded a train. Hanichak said that Merritte was in the next car over. As the train neared 69th Street, the victim and his friends entered the car where Merritte was riding.

When they did, Merritte pulled out a gun and opened fire on the victim, striking him in the neck and right leg, Hanichak said. The shooting was captured on CTA security video, which allegedly showed Merritte’s face from various angles. Cops found four shell casings on the train.

Police caught a break on July 22 when they arrested Merritte in connection with an unrelated armed robbery, Hanichak said.

In that case, a man was walking in the 1500 block of East 74th Street around 8:30 a.m. when three gunmen stepped out of a black SUV, robbed him, and pistol-whipped him. Hanichak said. Cops tracked the victim’s phone and eventually found Merritte, who was carrying the device.

Chicago police noticed that Merritte resembled the Red Line gunman and included his picture in a photo line-up that detectives presented to the shooting victim. The victim reviewed the images and identified Merritte as the shooter, Hanichak alleged.

According to Merritte’s private defense attorney, Charles Snowden, both Merritte and Merritte’s mother have seen some of the CTA video, and both deny that he is the shooter.

Merritte is charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. Judge Mary Marubio ordered him held without bail.

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