Man stole huge knives from Target, used them to threaten and rob people on the Red Line, prosecutors say

Chicago — Prosecutors say a man stole large kitchen knives from a downtown Target store, then used them to threaten two women and rob a man on the Red Line before Chicago police took him into custody inside a Magnificent Mile high-rise on Thursday morning.

During a bond hearing Friday afternoon, Charles Lawson, 35, was held without bail by Judge Susana Ortiz.

A Chicago police officer holds one of the knives they allegedly seized from Charles Lawson (inset). | @tnertz; Chicago Police Department

Lawson allegedly stole chef’s knives from Target at 1 South State before making his way to the Red Line around 10:45 a.m. After sitting next to another passenger, Lawson took out two knives, one in each hand, and began carving on a plexiglass divider.

But then Lawson allegedly raised the knives behind two women and asked, “Do you want to die today?”

“Nobody wants to die today,” a man on the train announced while standing up.

Lawson turned his attention to the man and followed him into another train car. There, Lawson allegedly demanded the victim’s property while holding two knives, prosecutor Sarah Dale-Schmidt alleged. During the robbery, he pulled out a third knife and stole the victim’s wallet, backpack, phone, and other items.

Dale-Schmidt said Lawson left the train at the next station. Witnesses spotted police in the area and directed them to Lawson, who allegedly fled into a high-rise in the 500 block of North Michigan.

Chicago police sealed off the building and launched an organized search. Dale-Schmidt said they found Lawson holding a large knife on the 24th floor. Two more knives were also found, as was the robbery victim’s property.

Lawson was on a recognizance bond at the time of the incident for a felony case that was filed after he allegedly caused $1,750 in damages during a tirade about being “disrespected” at a Little Village Burger King earlier this month, court records show.

His public defender said he is homeless and has mental health conditions. The attorney urged Judge Ortiz to release him on bail because “the system has failed Mr. Lawson.”

Ortiz declined and granted the prosecution’s no-bail request.

Lawson is charged with robbery, armed robbery, aggravated robbery, and misdemeanor retail theft.

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About Tim Hecke 5786 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. He can be reached at