CHICAGO — It was one of Chicago’s memorable viral videos of 2022. An armed man wearing a ski mask strolled through the traffic lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway and carjacked a passing driver as another motorist recorded the action from the opposite side of the road.
Now, the Illinois State Police say charges have been filed against the hijacker. He has a lengthy criminal history, including multiple pending felony cases. In fact, we wrote two stories about him in March after Chicago cops arrested him on Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville. Despite his history, he was sent home after being indicted in the carjacking case, according to ISP.
At about 10:14 a.m. on October 14, a driver stopped on the Dan Ryan and began recording some unusual activity. Three people ran out of a car that was apparently involved in an auto accident in the outbound lanes just north of the Stevenson Expressway.
Then one of them, wearing a black ski mask and toting a large weapon, tried to carjack passing vehicles.
The carjacker appeared to offer a fistful of cash to the cameraman in exchange for a ride, but the man, who said he was on his way home from work, declined.
“Look at that rifle! “Look at that rifle!” yelled the man.
Then, the carjacking occurred.
“He’s hijacking the car! He’s hijacking the car right now!”
The man recording the action encouraged the other driver to speed away. Instead, the 34-year-old man exited his red Dodge Journey, put his hands in the air, and watched the hijacker speed off with their vehicle.
Watch (strong language):
In a statement this week, ISP said that video played a crucial role in helping investigators identify the carjacker as 20-year-old Vahsean Davenport.
A grand jury indicted Davenport on two counts of carjacking, possessing a stolen motor vehicle, and unlawful restraint, according to court records. ISP said he was released from their custody with instructions to appear in court this week.
Court records show Davenport received a two-year sentence for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon on July 5, 2022. That’s about three months before the carjacking
A history and more charges
Davenport was arrested again this spring to face another round of serious charges. During his bail hearing, prosecutors said he has an extensive juvenile history, with seven adjudications for crimes ranging from carjacking to gun possession.
The March 23 incident started around 3:23 p.m. when a woman stepped outside to see why her car alarm sounded in the 1300 block of West Crystal, just west of Goose Island. Officials said that she found a man standing next to her car with a gun and another man under her car, apparently trying to remove the catalytic converter.
After threatening the woman with the gun, the men fled in an Infiniti Q70 that Chicago police records showed was stolen from Insight Hospital in Bronzeville two days earlier. Officials said that someone switched the plates on the car after it was stolen, and the new plates were also used by getaway cars involved in the robberies of armored cars, ATMs, and other crimes.
About 90 minutes after the woman was threatened by armed catalytic converter thieves, police found the Infiniti stuck in traffic on Lake Shore Drive near Chicago Avenue in Streeterville.
As officers approached the car, Davenport got out of the driver’s seat and started to walk away, prosecutors said in March. The cops who arrested him and a 15-year-old boy found four catalytic converters in the back seat and two more in the trunk, according to a Chicago police report.
During Davenport’s bond hearing on March 24, Judge Kelly McCarthy noted that, while prosecutors didn’t tell her about it, the Chicago police report mentioned the Infiniti was involved in an attempted carjacking, armored truck robberies, and catalytic converter theft.
Neither Davenport nor the 15-year-old were charged with the armored car heists or the carjacking.
But they did charge Davenport with possessing a stolen motor vehicle, theft, and possessing ammunition without a Firearm Owner’s ID card. The juvenile was charged with possessing a machine gun and other felonies.
“Mr. Davenport, you’re before the court. You’re 20 years old, and you have a larger criminal record than most adults that come before this court,” Judge McCarthy said, speaking about Davenport’s lengthy juvenile record. “Possession of a gun. Unlawful use of a weapon. Aggravated assault with a gun. Violation of order of protection. Vehicular hijacking. Unlawful use of a weapon again. Possession of a controlled substance. [Possessing a stolen motor vehicle] Class two. Six catalytic converters found in the car you’re seen running from when the police come up … I do find you’re a danger to the community, and your bond is going to reflect that.”
She ordered him to pay a $15,000 bail deposit to be released on electronic monitoring.
Prosecutors added unlawful use of a weapon by a felon charges on May 16. According to court records, two weeks later, he posted bond and went home on an ankle monitor. The case is still pending.