1 day of probation for Lyft driver accused of firing shots during struggle with no-paying customer inside South Loop theater

Babacar Mbengue (Chicago Police Department)

CHICAGO — A Lyft driver accused of firing several shots inside a crowded South Loop movie theater during a scuffle with a juvenile who failed to pay for a ride has been sentenced to one day of probation.

Judge Nicholas Kantas terminated the court supervision within moments of handing it to Babacar Mbengue, according to court records.

Mbengue picked up the juvenile boy and two females early last April and agreed to take them to ShowPlace ICON Theatre, 1011 South Delano Court, for a price, prosecutors said. But when the car arrived at the South Loop cinema, all three passengers bolted inside without paying.

Mbengue chased after them and got into a physical struggle with the boy at the top of an escalator, prosecutors claimed. During the fight, a gun fell from the boy’s pocket. Mbengue won a struggle to control the weapon and allegedly fired several rounds into the floor.

Security officers detained Mbengue and the juvenile until the police arrived. Prosecutors said that officers who responded to an “active shooter” alert found seven shell casings at the scene and three or four holes in the theater wall. Police secured a loaded 9-millimeter handgun equipped with an extended ammunition magazine.

Officials said about 700 people were in the building at the time, and much of the incident was captured on video.

Prosecutors had charged Mbengue with reckless discharge of a firearm and three gun possession charges, all felonies. But they eventually agreed to let him plead guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct in exchange for the one-day penalty.

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