Witnesses help capture muggers who attacked World War II veteran
An 87-year-old World War II veteran was walking from a corner store in West Englewood, Ill., after buying lottery tickets when he was attacked by three people who smashed his glasses, knocked out his hearing aid and broke his dentures, then went through his pockets and fled with his wallet, according to his family and police.
Two delivery men who witnessed the attack Monday afternoon followed the robbers in their truck and helped police track them down, authorities said. Three suspects -- ages 15, 17 and 20 -- were taken into custody not far from where Porter B. Cross was beaten.
"He's just a sweet guy," said Cross' daughter, Cynthia Steward-Jones, this morning. "Chicago has bruised my heart with this."
She said her dad, who will turn 88 on Thursday, was returning home from his weekly walk to the store to buy lottery tickets. "It's the one day of the week he goes out and gets his exercise," said Steward-Jones, who lives with her father.
The three jumped him just blocks from his home. "They broke his glasses in his face and his dentures in his mouth," she said. "They knocked his hearing aid out and his face is really swollen."
The three took his wallet, which contained money, his Social Security card, his state ID, driver's license and credit cards. But he was able to hold onto the lottery tickets, she said.
Cross suffered a bruised left eye, a laceration under his right eye and was treated at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, police said.
Steward-Jones said her father served in World War II. "He was a seaman," she said. After the war, he worked for 36 years for the U.S. Postal Service before retiring. They moved to the West Englewood neighborhood about two years ago.
"We thought this neighborhood would be good for a single person but apparently it's not," she said.
Steward-Jones said the robbery has also left her father "disappointed."
"He said: 'I'm just so disappointed. I've served this country and I've done all the right things. I've lived my life like I was supposed to and this younger generation is just something else. … They're just losing their mind.' "
Steward-Jones said the family is touched by the kindness of the people who came to her father's aid.
"If it had not been for the two gentlemen ... they might not have been caught," she said. "They could have killed my father. I am just so grateful to them. I just want to say thank you and my whole family says thank you.
"At least there's someone who still cares."
One of those Good Samaritans was Dennis Weekly, who was making a meat delivery on the Southwest Side when he saw Cross on the ground near 71st Street and Claremont Avenue and three men going through his pockets. When the muggers ran away, he and his partner followed them in their rented truck.
"I saw the man lying on the ground and three males standing over him, going through his pockets," said Weekly, 29. "Once I saw it was an old man on the ground, I called the ambulance and I told them they needed to call the police.
"He could barely move or talk. He was in so much pain," Weekly said. "He didn't deserve this. They didn't need to do this to him. It hurt my heart to see him lying on the ground like that."
Weekly said he and his partner decided to follow the robbers.
"I followed them about four blocks until police got there," Weekly said, careful not to get too close. "I kept my distance so they wouldn't know. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."
Aiman Samad was driving the truck. "We tracked down the culprits," Samad said. "We flagged down the cops."
Police say Rashon Williams, 20, of the 1400 block of Lincoln Avenue in Calumet City, was charged with robbery of a senior citizen, and Michael Protho, 17, of the 3000 block of Woodworth Place in Hazel Crest, was charged with robbery of a senior citizen and reckless conduct.
Juvenile authorities will take over in the case of the 15-year-old, who was also charged with robbery of a senior, police said.