Man charged with Navy Pier shooting was off his PTSD meds, defense attorney says

CHICAGO — The man accused of firing 15 rounds into a crowd of people on Navy Pier over the weekend was off his PTSD medications, according to his defense attorney. A woman suffered a gunshot wound to her knee, but no other injuries were reported in the incident, which occurred as a masquerade party was debarking the Spirit of Chicago charter boat early Saturday.

Judge David Kelly ordered Lorenzo Crawford Jr., 30, of Olympia Fields to remain in custody during a detention hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Monday afternoon.

Security footage showed Crawford and his girlfriend arriving at Navy Pier in a white Chevrolet Impala and entering the parking garage where the car’s license plate was recorded, Assistant State’s Attorney Victor Aberdeen told the judge.

Crawford got into an argument with his girlfriend during the cruise, and security officers had to separate them. The guards escorted Crawford from the boat when it returned to the pier, and there was “some shoving” between the men, Aberdeen continued. He said Crawford told security he was going to his car and might return.

Pier video footage allegedly showed Crawford return to the garage, hit another car as he drove out, and crash through the entrance gate to avoid paying around 12:13 a.m. Other footage showed him driving up a staircase at the pier before getting out and walking toward the boat, Aberdeen said.

Standing outside near Harry Caray’s Tavern, Crawford fired 15 or 16 shots toward a crowd near the boat, according to Aberdeen. However, the pier’s extensive surveillance network failed to capture images of the shooting.

The 31-year-old woman who was shot did not have any interactions with Crawford or his girlfriend at any time, Aberdeen said. Chicago police officers found her lying in a food court area. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Lorenzo Crawford was arrested after attending a masquerade party on the Spirit of Chicago, officials said. | Rodrigo Piovezan; Cook County sheriff’s office

About two hours later, an Illinois State Police trooper who received a CPD bulletin about the suspect’s car and license plate number pulled Crawford over on the Dan Ryan near 33rd Street and took him into custody.

Investigators found a 9-millimeter handgun in his trunk, and preliminary tests indicate that it is “consistent with” shell casings found at Navy Pier, Aberdeen said. Both of Crawford’s hands allegedly tested positive for gunshot residue.

Crawford told police that he remembered getting into an argument with security on the boat, but, while he only had three drinks all evening, he “blacked out” and did not remember using the gun or getting it out of his car, Aberdeen said. He also made several statements that Aberdeen suggested were incriminating, including “If someone was hurt by me and you can prove it, I’m guilty.”

Private defense attorney Edward Speights told Judge Kelly that Crawford was honorably discharged from the Army after suffering a traumatic brain injury in 2019. On Saturday, Crawford was out of the medication he takes to treat PTSD.

“The reason this incident possibly occurred is because he was off his medication,” Speights continued.

Crawford’s father was arrested this year on an attempted murder charge, a situation that is adding to the younger Crawford’s stress, according to Speights.

This story is based on a transcript of the court hearing that was paid for by the Cook County Courtroom Transparency Fund.

While summarizing his thoughts on the case, Kelly pointed out that only one person, the security guard, identified Crawford.

And, given Navy Pier’s comprehensive security system, the judge said, “I think it is interesting to note that what was not captured on surveillance is this alleged discharge of a firearm.”

In the end, though, Kelly concluded that detaining Crawford was the only way he could ensure the public’s safety while Crawford’s mental health condition remained untreated.

“There are people there doing all sorts of things, both adults and children, and it [is] alleged that you have fired this firearm 15 rounds, not one, not two. Fifteen.”

Crawford is charged with aggravated battery by discharging a firearm and aggravated discharge into an occupied vehicle. He is due in court again on November 9.

About Tim Hecke 255 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com