4 men charged after stolen truck containing 3 guns crashed into Lincoln Park monument

Chicago — Charges have been filed against four men who allegedly ran from a stolen pickup truck after crashing it into the Goethe Memorial statue in Lincoln Park on Monday.

Chicago police had been looking for the Dodge Ram 1500 TRX since it was used by a gunman who fired an AR-15 rifle and a handgun at a man near Lake View High School on Saturday, officials said.

Victor Galarza (L) and Luis Rodriguez are charged in connection with Monday’s crash of a stolen truck into the Goethe Monument in Lincoln Park. | CWBChicago; Chicago Police Department

Officers spotted the truck, which was stolen in November and bore a separately-stolen license plate, speeding east on Diversey Parkway near Sheridan around 2 a.m. Monday. As Chicago cops watched, the truck slammed into a tree, then plowed into the base of the towering Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Monument near Diversey and Sheridan Road, prosecutors said.

Four men who allegedly ran from the vehicle were arrested after foot chases.

Police found a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun on the truck’s rear floorboard and another handgun in the front passenger area, according to prosecutors. Investigators are conducting DNA and fingerprint tests on the weapons to determine if any of the men possessed the firearms, according to a Chicago police report.

Luis Rodriguez, 28, is charged with possession of a controlled substance and criminal trespass to a vehicle. Prosecutors said he was carrying $9,185 in cash and two plastic bags containing suspected crack cocaine in a fanny pack when police arrested him. Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered him to pay a $5,000 bail deposit to be released.

She also held him without bail for violating bond on a set of similar allegations stemming from a traffic crash in River North on October 29. In that case, a stolen Audi crashed in the 100 block of West Hubbard, and a paramedic told police that they saw a man dressed in a banana costume run from the Audi, then return to the scene and rummage through the wreckage, according to CPD records.

Rodriguez, wearing a banana costume, returned to the scene again when police were present. In his arrest report, officers noted he was “the only person in the area wearing a banana costume.” Police said he tossed a bag containing about $2,500 worth of cocaine shortly before they arrested him.

Police allegedly recovered a loaded handgun with an extended magazine from the Audi’s driver’s door, but Rodriguez is not charged with possessing it. He has previous convictions for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in 2018, two narcotics cases in 2017, and burglary in 2012.

Also charged in connection with Monday’s incident is Victor Galarza, 22. Prosecutors said he had a prescription bottle containing 11 pills of doxycycline. But Garza’s defense attorney said the medicine is his girlfriend’s acne treatment and has no recreational use. McCarthy ordered Garza to pay a $2,000 bail deposit on charges of possessing a controlled substance and criminal trespass to a vehicle. Galarza has a pending DUI case, prosecutors said.

Two 18-year-old men are also charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle: Yahir Rodriguez and Michael Smith. Mugshots for Yahir Rodriguez and Smith were not immediately available because the Chicago Police Department embargoes misdemeanor mugshots for four days.

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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