Loop crime escalates

Officials say avoiding violence starts with staying aware of your surroundings and keep personal items in your pockets.


Raphael Cannesant | The DePaulia

Two Chicago police officers convene at the Jackson Red Line stop.

Following last Monday’s shooting that killed 24-year-old Edward Charleston and injured two others in the tunnel connecting the Jackson Red and Blue Lines, police charged 23-year-old Torrez Cathery on Friday. 

Cathery was found in Oak Park. The suspect has 22 prior arrests on his record, according to CPD News Affair officer Howard Ludwig.  

Cathery is charged with first degree murder and two counts of aggrevated battery with a firearm. He is currently being held without bail at the Department of Corrections Ninth Division with his next hearing scheduled for Feb. 25, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. 

Ludwig said Cathery and one of the victims had a prior dispute – an aggravated assault involving a knife on Oct. 14, 2019. 

Our offender was the offender in that incident as well,” Ludwig said. “And our victim, we believe, perhaps recognized him from this earlier incident in October.” 

Cathery and the victims saw each other and that is when the incident broke out, according to Ludwig. Cathery allegedly pulled out what the CPD believes to have been a 9mm handgun and he fired shots at the group in the tunnel. 

Ludwig said security cameras in the tunnel showed a group of men seemingly following the offender.

“As they start to get close, the offender pulls out a gun and shoots several times the victims from the opposite direction, as well as others in the tunnel at the time,” Ludwig said. “So the scene kind of clears out and then our offense, our offender returns to shoot one of the victims almost execution style.”

The shooting was the latest incident in a recent spike of violent occurrences across CTA stations throughout the city – some within steps of DePaul’s Loop campus.

On Feb. 4, Michael Malinowski, a street musician, was stabbed at the Jackson Red Line stop by a woman who claimed his music was giving her a headache.

Junior Isabella Bird witnessed the Feb. 4 stabbing. She said she saw two individuals struggling, but the situation escalated once she boarded the Howard-bound Red Line.

Lots of screaming and banging occurred at this point but those of us sitting on the train couldn’t see what was happening,” Bird said. “Screaming for the police started and the power on the trains was cut.”

On the way back to the Lincoln Park campus, junior Alana Uriarte said she saw the aftermath of the stabbing. 

“There were a lot of police running around and they were arresting the lady,” Uriate said. “She was yelling that she had a knife in her pocket and that she stabbed this guy. I left Jackson to take the brown line because I still had to go to class. Walking up the stairs I saw a good amount of blood.”

Just a day after the stabbing occurred, a 30-year-old man was shot in the lower back and had his backpack stolen at the UIC-Halsted Blue Line stop.

Ludwig said aside from being aware of your surroundings, personal belongings should be safeguarded. 

Keep your personal belongings on your body, don’t leave them out for anybody to grab,” Ludwig said. “If possible, valuables should be stored in a zipped pocket or securely closed bag.”

Bird said recent crimes will change how she uses the CTA.

My motto has always been to switch cars when someone made me uncomfortable and ride others at night,” Bird said. “Now, I will likely be more selective on when I take the train and keep mace in my backpack.”

DePaul’s Public Safety Department declined to comment on the shooting, citing the university does not typically comment on ongoing CPD police investigations – especially on crimes occurring on city property.

Public Safety releases an annual Safety and Security Information Report for members of the community to be informed on crime occurring in and around each campus. From 2016 to 2019, there were no reported instances of murder or manslaughter on or off either campus.

The Chicago Tribune reported violent crimes across the CTA increased by 32 percent with 590 incidents in 2019 compared to 447 in 2018.

The spike in CTA crimes follow CPD’s announcement of increased patrol measures across all lines to be instituted in March. Officials first attempted to increase security on Red Line trains following a spike in crimes between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year.

Current increased patrols have not halted violent incidents. Consequently, CPD announced more than 50 officers will be added trains and platforms around the city, a policy beginning March 5 and lasting until May 27. 

Interim Supt. Charlie Beck and Mayor Lori Lightfoot will unveil a report this coming week to announce further efforts to make the CTA safer.

“That announcement will include additional deployment of officers, technology and some other things that I think will reassure the people of Chicago what is the truth, which is that is CTA is a safe form of transportation,” Beck said in a press conference.