Carjacking charges filed against man who hid inside police dispatch center dumpster with a gun

Chicago — The man charged last month with running from a freshly-hijacked SUV and then hiding inside a dumpster behind the Chicago police dispatch center is now accused of carjacking two vehicles since December, including the SUV that he allegedly ran away from moments before being arrested.

We told you about Thomas Battle on January 3, two days after police found him hiding in a garbage bin outside the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) headquarters—a high-security building where police dispatchers were helping cops track him down.

Thomas Battle and the dispatch floor at the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications | Chicago Police Department; Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications

Around 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day, Chicago police responded to a five-car crash involving a newly-hijacked Cadillac SUV in the 1200 block of West Van Buren. Battle, 19, was one of the two men who ran from the car.

Prosecutors initially charged him with illegal gun possession.

Now, they’re adding a host of new felony charges after investigators linked Battle to two separate carjackings.

On December 28, Battle and an accomplice ordered a Lyft to the 1800 block of South Karlov and then carjacked the 29-year-old driver, prosecutors said. 

After arriving at the destination, the two hijackers directed the driver into a parking lot. There, Battle pointed a gun to the man’s face from the back seat and ordered him out, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt said.

Battle ordered his accomplice to take the man’s valuables and told the driver not to move, or he would be “smoked,” officials said. The hijackers made the driver give up his phone PIN and then drove away with his car.

Chicago police found the heavily damaged vehicle abandoned about three hours later.

Then, around 3:21 p.m. on January 1, Battle ordered another Lyft ride from the 1400 block of West Madison in the West Loop. The driver picked them up in a Cadillac Escalade and drove to the Karlov address, where, once again, Battle and a juvenile ordered him to pull into a parking lot, Dale-Schmidt said.

Battle allegedly threatened the driver and ordered him out of the car while the juvenile forced the man to give up his Apple ID.

When the victim was “slow to produce” his Apple credentials, Battle put the gun barrel to the man’s neck and threatened to shoot him, Dale-Schmidt said.

About two hours later, the Cadillac was involved in a fiery multi-vehicle crash in the 1200 block of West Van Buren. Everyone ran from the Cadillac, and police allegedly found Battle inside the dispatch center dumpster with a gun.

Police found Battle’s phone inside the Cadillac. It allegedly contained a picture taken from the car’s back seat showing the Lyft driver driving the Cadillac shortly before he was hijacked.

Prosecutors said Battle is on juvenile parole for carjacking a pizza driver at gunpoint. He was also adjudicated delinquent for robbery in 2022 and possessing a stolen motor vehicle in 2021, Dale-Schmidt said.

During his bail hearing this week, Battle’s defense attorney said he is “strongly involved with his community, volunteering with the Boys and Girls Clubs.”

In addition to the gun charge he picked up last month, he is now charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm, aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon, two counts of armed robbery with a firearm, two counts of unlawful vehicular invasion, and one count of armed robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Judge Charles Beach held him without bail at the state’s request.

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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