Chicago cops use social media, facial recognition technology to identify third man in high-rise gun case

Chicago — After four men crashed a stolen car loaded with rifles and ran into a high-rise apartment complex near Old Town last month, Chicago police quickly arrested two men. But the other two got away, at least for a while.

On Thursday, prosecutors charged one of the men who allegedly got away, saying detectives used facial recognition technology to identify him in pictures they found on the arrested men’s social media accounts.

David Franklin and the guns police allegedly recovered from the apartment building’s trash chute. | Chicago Police Department

Judge Ankur Srivastava ordered David Franklin, 21, held without bail. The previously charged men, Anthony Ramsey and Trevon Garland, both 18, are still in the Cook County jail.

Franklin pleaded guilty to two felony gun charges late last year and was sentenced to one year on each count. But, with concurrent sentencing, credit for time served, and the state’s automatic 50% sentence reduction, he walked out of the Stateville Correctional Center on the same day he arrived — December 29.

Less than two weeks later, on January 10, Franklin was allegedly riding in the front passenger seat of a stolen car when Chicago police tried to pull it over in the Robert Taylor Homes.

The car sped away from cops, but an Illinois State Police plane tracked the vehicle up the Dan Ryan Expressway, onto Lake Shore Drive, and onto the 1100 block of North Wells, where four men wearing ski masks bailed out and ran into an apartment complex.

Police found two AK-47s on the driver’s side of the rear seat, where Garland exited, prosecutors said. And the apartment building’s security system showed the four masked men entered a short-term rental unit on the 12th floor.

Moments later, Ramsey and Franklin stepped out of the apartment and dumped items down a trash chute, prosecutor Sarah Dale-Schmidt said. Those items, recovered by police from the bottom of the chute a few minutes later, were four loaded handguns, 20 rounds of ammunition, and the stolen car’s key fob, according to Dale-Schmidt. She said that one of the handguns had a switch so someone could fire multiple rounds with one trigger pull, like a machine gun.

After Ramsey and Garland were arrested that night, Chicago police scoured their social media accounts and found them posing with Franklin and the fourth person, who remains at large, Dale-Schmidt said.

Investigators fed the social media pictures into a facial recognition program, which matched one of the men to Franklin’s Illinois driver’s license photo, according to Dale-Schmidt.

Police allegedly found Franklin’s fingerprints on three of the firearms that cops recovered from the trash chute, including the gun that had a switch.

In addition to the two felony gun charges he is on parole for, Franklin was also found guilty of illegal gun possession as a juvenile, Dale-Schmidt said.

He’s now charged with Class X armed habitual criminal, four counts of unlawful use of a weapon, and being a felon in possession of a machine gun.

His public defender said he “regularly volunteers at food pantries.”

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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