A Chicago business owner got sick of having his South Side auto shop burglarized, so he and a few employees staked the place out Friday night to see if they could catch a thief red-handed. Prosecutors say they not only caught a burglar but they also shot him, then had to wait more than two hours for Chicago police to show up.
The stakeout of the business in the 300 block of East 69th Street paid off around 3:26 a.m. Saturday, when the employees saw someone cut a hole in the perimeter fence and crawl onto the property, prosecutor Kenneth Flesch said.
Several employees watched as the intruder grabbed a tire rim from the property. Then, they moved in and confronted the man, identified as George Perkins.
Perkins swung a crowbar at three of the employees, prompting one to pull out a gun and fire shots into the air, Flesch said. But at least one of the bullets went somewhere else — into Perkins’ shoulder.
The shop owner and his employees detained Perkins and called 911 repeatedly. Flesch said police “eventually arrived approximately two hours later.”
Chicago Police Department dispatch audio confirms that CPD’s Grand Crossing (3rd) District had a backlog of calls waiting for service at the time of the incident. A dispatcher first read out the call, classified as a “holding the offender” incident, around 3:27 a.m. It was read out again at 4:51 a.m. Neither reading included any mention of someone being shot.
Finally, around 5:27 a.m., the fire department notified police that they had responded to the business and found someone — apparently Perkins —with a gunshot wound. At that point, a CPD supervisor pulled a patrol unit off of paperwork to handle the call, according to the dispatch recordings.
The employee who shot Perkins said he fired into the air because Perkins was resisting, Flesch said, but the employee was long gone when police arrived, and no charges have been filed against him.
Perkins’ public defender said he is unemployed and homeless and was merely rummaging through garbage in the alley when everything went wrong. At the age of 53, Perkins has no criminal background. Prosecutors charged him with burglary on Sunday.
Judge Susana Ortiz released Perkins on his own recognizance.
“This is a theft-related type of offense,” Ortiz noted. “No violence here, other than the violence executed against Mr. Perkins.”
“Not that I need to tell you this,” Ortiz warned Perkins, “but I am entering an order that you have no contact with that location, OK?”
Chicago police districts frequently enter “backlog” status, meaning that there are more calls for help than officers on-hand to respond. Last year, districts were in a backlog or “Radio Assignments Pending” status 11,721 times, according to information Wirepoints obtained via a Freedom of Information request. According to the data, that was nearly as many times as 2019 and 2020 combined.