Armed men robbed 2 bars and their customers overnight, Chicago police say

California Clipper, 1002 North California, and Rite Liquors, 1649 West Division. | Google

CHICAGO — Armed men entered two bars, robbing the businesses and their customers at gunpoint on Thursday morning in West Town, Chicago police say.

Without identifying the businesses by name, a CPD spokesperson said two men carrying firearms entered an establishment in the 1000 block of North California around 1:10 a.m.

They demanded property from employees and customers, all of whom complied, and then fled the scene, according to the spokesperson. No injuries were reported.

According to police radio activity, officers responded to California Clipper, 1002 North California. Shortly before the robbery, a witness called 911 and reported seeing two men climbing over a gate on the block, but it is unclear if that incident is related to the robbery.

CPD provided an identical description of the second robbery, which the department said occurred in the 1600 block of West Division around 1:20 a.m.

Two men entered a business with guns, demanded property from customers and employees, all of whom complied, and then fled, the police spokesperson said.

That robbery occurred at Rite Liquors, 1649 West Division, according to CPD radio activity. The initial indication was that the offenders entered through the rear door.

“If detectives determine a link or establish a pattern, they will create a Community Alert, which our office will disseminate at that time,” the spokesperson added.

Police found property stolen during both robberies in the 600 block of North Troy around 2 a.m., including purses, wallets, bags, and at least one phone.

Officers at the California Clipper radioed descriptions of two suspects: a Black male with dreadlocks wearing a mask and black hoodie, and another Black male wearing a black hoodie with a bandana on his face. One wore gray pants, and the other wore red pants. The officer said both robbers appeared to be young and stood 5’2″ to 5’4″ tall.

The pair may have fled in a white van.

In recent weeks, armed robbers on holdup sprees have frequently targeted customers standing outside of bars, often in West Town. A couple of weeks ago, armed men robbed customers outside a North Side bar and then entered the establishment and announced a robbery, but they left without taking anything from victims inside the establishment.

This morning’s robbery is the second major incident involving the California Clipper in two months.

On July 16, a man was shot and killed during a robbery attempt just steps from the bar’s front door. Marshall Russell, 32, a well-liked server at Owen & Engine, was shot multiple times by men who confronted him on a sidewalk moments after he left the Clipper to walk home.

Police said three robbers got out of a vehicle with guns and demanded his property. The robbers shot him during the crime, then escaped in the car, possibly a silver or gray Hyundai or Kia. At least two armed robberies were reported in West Town before the killers targeted Russell. It is not known if there are any links between the crimes.

Opened in 1937, the California Clipper closed as the COVID pandemic forced businesses across the city to shutter in 2020. But new owners gave the Clipper a makeover, updating the sound system and other features, and opened the doors again last year.

Editor’s note: The times of the robberies included in this report were provided by CPD. However, the Rite Liquors robbery was dispatched about 30 minutes before the California Clipper holdup, so it is possible that the department reversed the sequence.

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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