Man gets 8 years for robbing high school students at knifepoint on CTA train downtown

Trenton Tidwell (left) and images of the robber released by Chicago police. | CPD

A Chicago man has been sentenced to eight years for robbing two high school students at knifepoint on a CTA train in 2021. A judge handed him a consecutive three years for battering a Cook County correctional officer while he was in jail awaiting trial.

Trenton Tidwell, 22, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and aggravated battery of a peace officer in exchange for the sentences from Judge Steven Watkins. Tidwell faced several other charges, including multiple counts of battering other correctional officers, but prosecutors dropped those in the plea deal.

The robbery victims were heading home from De La Salle Institute in Bronzeville when Tidwell asked them for money on an inbound Green Line train around 5:30 p.m. on September 10, 2021, prosecutors said. The students declined, and Tidwell went to a different car, only to return and order the teens to hand over their wallets and phones at knifepoint, according to the allegations.

One of the victims dropped their wallet on the train floor, and both victims ran from the train into the Roosevelt station when Tidwell bent over to pick it up, prosecutors said.

CTA surveillance video recorded the robbery and allegedly showed Tidwell discarding pieces of clothing as he fled at Roosevelt.

Detectives released two images of the suspect from the CTA footage to media outlets in a “seeking to identify” bulletin on September 14. Someone recognized Tidwell from those photos and contacted the police. Both victims picked Tidwell out of photo lineups, prosecutors said.