Man who detonated a powerful explosive on an occupied CTA train gets 10 years

CHICAGO — The man who intentionally detonated an explosive device while riding a Pink Line train with other passengers was sentenced to ten years in prison on Wednesday.

Erik Toleyo Flores, 26, pleaded guilty to attempted murder and aggravated arson after prosecutors agreed to drop 33 other felony charges, including terrorism, according to court records. Judge Laura Ayala-Gonzalez handed him the decade-long sentence. He must serve 85% of the time before being eligible for release.

Flores boarded a westbound Pink Line train around 8:30 p.m. on June 5, 2022, while carrying a beer and rolling his scooter, prosecutors said. He allegedly warned other passengers repeatedly that they had until the Cicero station to exit the train or he would blow it up.

When a passenger approached Flores and tried to calm him down, Flores took out a lighter and detonated an explosive device that he was holding in his right hand. The device blew up while Flores was holding it, causing traumatic injuries to his hand.

The explosion was so powerful that it punctured several holes in the ceiling of the train car. CTA surveillance video recorded the entire episode.

Erik Flores in April 2022. (Chicago Police Department)

Chicago police recovered a second device that prosecutors described as an eight-inch by one-inch tube with no manufacturing marks. Flores allegedly told police that he knew people were on the train when he lit a “firework” with a lighter.

He was free on a $250 bail bond at the time of the incident for a felony cannabis charge. In that case, police said they found 182 grams of cannabis in Flores’ car during a traffic stop on April 11.

Prosecutors dropped that case on Wednesday. Flores will be required to register as an arsonist when he gets out of prison, court records show.

In 2019, he received a two-year sentence for concealing a death or moving a body after prosecutors said he wrapped his dead friend’s body in garbage bags and placed it in a garage until it was discovered after spending two weeks in the summertime heat.

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