Lyft driver fired gun inside movie theater during struggle with non-paying passenger: prosecutors

CHICAGO — A Lyft driver fired several shots inside a crowded downtown Chicago movie theater during a scuffle with a juvenile who failed to pay him for a ride, prosecutors said Sunday.

“The lack of judgment here is so concerning to the court,” Judge Maryam Ahmad remarked before ordering Babacar Mbengue, 35, to pay a $35,000 bail deposit to go home on electronic monitoring.

Mbengue picked up the underage boy and two females on Saturday evening, then agreed to take them to a second location for a price, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt said during a court hearing Sunday afternoon.

Babacar Mbengue | Chicago Police Department

But when the car arrived at the ShowPlace ICON Theatre, 1011 South Delano Court, around 7:30 p.m., all three passengers bolted into the cinema without paying. Mbengue chased after them and got into a physical struggle with the boy at the top of an escalator, Dale-Schmidt said.

During the fight, a gun fell from the boy’s pocket. Mbengue won a struggle to control the weapon and allegedly fired several rounds into the floor.

Security officers detained Mbengue and the juvenile until the police arrived. Dale-Schmidt said that officers who responded to an “active shooter” alert found seven shell casings at the scene and three or four holes in the theater wall. Police secured a loaded 9-millimeter handgun equipped with an extended ammunition magazine at the scene.

Dale-Schmidt said about 700 people were in the building at the time of the incident, adding that much of the incident was captured on video.

Mbengue’s public defender said he has been supporting his family as a Lyft driver for about a year.

He is charged with reckless discharge of a firearm that endangers others.

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