Man charged with Loop carjacking didn’t know what his two companions were going to do, defense attorney says

A 19-year-old man and two juveniles carjacked a driver at gunpoint in downtown Chicago on Tuesday evening, prosecutors said. But the man, who allegedly admitted to being at the scene of the hijacking and riding in the car, allegedly told police that he didn’t know that the two teens were going to carjack someone.

Jaylin Thomas was ordered by Judge Kelly McCarthy to pay a $20,000 deposit toward bail to go home on electronic monitoring.

Jaylin Thomas and the 500 block of South Federal. | CPD; Google

Officials say that when a 39-year-old man got into his Buick Encore in the 500 block of South Federal in the Loop at 6:54 p.m., he was met by three hijackers, one of whom pulled out a gun.

The gunman ordered him out of the vehicle, and the trio told him to hand over his valuables, but the contents of his wallet spilled onto the ground, and he ran from the scene as the robbers bent over to pick up his credit cards, prosecutors said. 

Much of the incident was captured on a nearby surveillance camera.

Police used On-Star to track the vehicle to a gas station in the 7000 block of South Damen. There, they allegedly saw Thomas exit the front passenger seat before taking all three of the vehicle’s occupants into custody.

Thomas allegedly admitted that his phone was in the hijacked car, that he rode in the car’s front passenger seat, that he was present for the hijacking, and that his fingerprints might be on the firearm investigators recovered.

But video of the hijacking showed that he was not the one who displayed a weapon during the crime, prosecutors said.

Assistant Public Defender Michael Grady pointed out that Thomas has never been arrested before, a testament to the “strong women” who were in the courtroom supporting him during Thursday’s hearing.

Grady argued that Thomas didn’t know what the two juveniles were going to do, reminding Judge McCarthy that Thomas was not the one who pointed a gun at the victim.

McCarthy took an unusually long time to decide whether or not to grant the state’s request to hold Thomas without bail. The judge even allowed a prosecutor to leave court to watch surveillance video of the hijacking to determine if Thomas had the firearm.

Upon learning that he did not, McCarthy denied the no-bail petition, concluding that she could ensure public safety and Thomas’ presence in court by setting a high bail amount with electronic monitoring.

Thomas is charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon, armed robbery with a firearm, and misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle.

Both of the juveniles charged with Thomas are 17-year-old boys. One is charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon, armed robbery with a firearm, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and misdemeanor resisting. The other is charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon, armed robbery with a firearm, and criminal trespass to a vehicle.

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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