Man charged with murder, robbery of chef in the Loop blamed his accomplice—and the victim, prosecutors say

One of the men who robbed and fatally stabbed a restaurant chef heading home from work in the Loop last week allegedly told police the victim “might still be alive” if he hadn’t tried to protect himself, prosecutors allege.

Anthony Rawls also told detectives that chef Michael Byrnes “should not have fought back,” Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said during a Wednesday afternoon bail hearing. Judge Kelly McCarthy held Rawls without bail.

Anthony Rawls, the murder suspects, and Michael Byrnes. | CPD; Tri-Star Catering

On September 6, Byrnes, 41, walked from the West Loop restaurant he managed to the Loop, where he planned to catch a train home shortly before 11 p.m. Before heading up to the platform, Byrnes paused for a few moments, leaning against a wall beneath the L tracks at LaSalle and Van Buren.

As he did so, Rawls, 28, and another man who is still at large approached him and “immediately” attacked him, according to Hanichak. Both men punched Byrnes in the face and chest and threw him to the ground. They continued to attack Byrnes after he was down for about 10 seconds before turning and starting to leave.

After walking a few steps, the men turned around and returned to Byrnes, who was still on the ground, Hanichak continued. They started attacking him again, dragging him, kicking him, and pulling him. 

At one point, Rawls pinned Byrnes against a pillar as the other offender punched and stabbed Byrnes, Hanichak said. Byrnes, stabbed three times in the neck, back, and chest, collapsed nearby and died.

The entire attack, as well as the men’s movements before the crime and their escape in a car registered to Rawls, was captured on video, he said.

Chicago police tracked Byrne’s phone and found it lying in an alley behind Rawls’ house. The getaway car was there, too, Hanichak said. 

Surveillance video clearly showed one of the attackers had a unique goatee with beads woven into it and a bandage or cast on his right arm. When cops arrested Rawls, he still had beads in his goatee and a bandage on his right arm from a recent shooting, according to Hanichak.

Rawls initially claimed he had nothing to do with the robbery and murder, but police say he confessed after being shown video and other evidence.

Hanichak said Rawls “tried to put most of the blame” on the other attacker, but he admitted to getting Byrnes’ phone and ditching it behind his house. He also told police he received a little cash from the robbery.

In addition to blaming his accomplice, Rawls also blamed the victim, according to Hanichak.

Byrnes “should not have fought back,” Rawls allegedly told detectives. “If he had just laid there, he might still be alive.”

Rawls has no adult criminal record and worked as a food delivery driver for three years. He is charged with murder, murder while committing another forcible felony, and armed robbery.

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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