No bail for ‘very distinct-looking individual’ accused of Lincoln Park carjacking

Chicago — A suburban Chicago man who allegedly carjacked an international student in Lincoln Park was held without bail Friday afternoon by a Cook County judge who concluded that he is “just a very distinct-looking individual.”

During the bail hearing, prosecutors said the victim told police that one of the carjackers was wearing a balaclava-style ski mask but failed to cover up tattoos on his face, leading Judge Barbara Dawkins to note that 21-year-old Nicholas Kaehler had a unique look, even as he stood before her wearing a COVID mask.

Nicholas Kaehler | Chicago Police Department

Prosecutors told Dawkins the 23-year-old victim was stopped in traffic on the 2300 block of North Lincoln when a white Jeep pulled up behind him around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Kaehler and two accomplices exited the Jeep, and Kaehler knocked on the victim’s window while pointing a revolver at him, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt alleged.

The victim surrendered his car to Kaehler, who drove away with it as one of the other hijackers sat in the passenger seat, said Dale-Schmidt.

Officers in a Chicago Police Department surveillance room used license plate readers to find the stolen car as it went south on Lake Shore Drive and told patrol officers where to find it.

Kaehler initially pulled over for officers on the drive but sped away as they got out of their squad cars. Moments later, Kaehler stopped the car in the 5400 block of South Lake Shore Drive, and he bolted into Hyde Park along with the passenger, Dale-Schmidt said. She told Dawkins that he was still wearing the balaclava with his face tattoos exposed when police arrested him nearby.

An assistant public defender argued against holding Kaehler without bail, reminding Dawkins that, while the victim said Kaehler was armed with a revolver, police never located a weapon. She said Kaehler is a regular churchgoer who lives at home with his mother and his two children.

Prosecutors said he was adjudicated delinquent for robbery in 2019 after he and an accomplice punched a victim in the face and took their phone. He’s now charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking.

The passenger who ran from the car is only charged with a misdemeanor.

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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