Several Chicago train passengers were held at gunpoint and robbed on Wednesday afternoon. Police said the two male suspects pulled out a gun and announced the robbery to passengers at around 4:15PM.
The suspects collected cash, phones, jewelry, and other items from those riding the downtown-bound train. The robbers took merchandise from at least eight people, according to CBS Chicago. When the train stopped at the Roosevelt station, the robbers quickly fled on foot.
64-year-old Romelia Garcia was the only passenger reportedly assaulted during the incident that she claimed lasted seven minutes, as reported by Chicago Tribune. The suspects demanded she give them her purse, and when she refused, one of the men hit her in the head with their gun.
“Incredible. Incredible that this happens in plain day,” said Garcia.
The blow to Garcia’s head left a large bruise, and she was treated at the scene while police questioned her.
Thursday morning, the crime patrol organization Guardian Angels handed train passengers photos that that transit cameras captured of the two suspects. Miguel Fuentes, one of the group’s leaders, expressed his disbelieve of the robbery.
“You would expect some of these attacks to happen in the outskirts of the train systems, late at night, when there’s hardly no activity, so that maybe you’ll be able to get one or two cell phones, or one or two wallets, but to do it at 4 in the afternoon on a train coming in from Midway Airport into the hub of Chicago … they have no respect for anybody, and if we don’t catch them, and we don’t turn them in, they’re going to do it again,” said Fuentes.
Garcia and Fuentes were not the only ones shocked to see such a robbery occur in the daytime. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) said Thursday that armed robberies on Chicago transit systems are “extremely rare.” In fact, bus and train crimes are actually down 38 percent in comparison to last year. In the first quarter of this year, 483 crimes were reportedly committed on the transit system, which averages to 4 crimes for every 1 million train rides. The CTA provides about 1.7 million rides every weekday.
Within the past few years, CTA has installed several surveillance cameras on bus and train cars in an attempt to make transit rides safer. “What’s been very helpful to fighting crime and making arrests is the thousands of cameras we have on our rail cars, platforms, station houses and buses,’’ said CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase.
Although some precautions have been made to make trips safer, some passengers are suggesting that perhaps more could be done to prevent another episode like Wednesday’s from happening.
“I feel like maybe there should be more security now…especially with all the phones people carry now,” said one rider. “It’s just really dangerous.”