Evanston police captured an armed robbery suspect Tuesday afternoon, but the sight of a half-dozen squad cars racing across a playing field adjacent to Washington School in an effort to capture the suspect left at least one parent with doubts about the tactic.

Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott says that just before 5 p.m. police were called to Dewey Avenue and Greenwood Street where a youth reported that another juvenile had flashed a gun and stolen his bicycle and iPhone.

The robber also allegedly struck the victim several times on the head with the gun before fleeing on the victim’s bicycle.

Parrott says police spotted the suspect in the vicinity of Dewey Avenue and Crain Street, gave chase and managed to capture him at Florence Avenue and Madison Street, nearly a mile south of the robbery scene.

He says police recovered what turned out to be a starter pistol and items taken in the robbery and that the suspect, a 15-year-old Evanston resident, was positively identified as the robber.

The youth in custody has been charged with aggravated robbery.

The parent, who asked to not be identified in this story, said about 30 to 35 children were on the playground when the police cars came through — near a pathway that links two sections of Florence Avenue — one north of Lee Street, the other south of Main Street.

He says that after entering on the sidewalk at Lee, the police cars went onto the grass at the east end of Robert Crown Park and sped south toward Main, even though other police cars were in pursuit using the streets.

Cmdr. Parrott said that “officers are very careful when they do have to maneuver off a roadway.”

“But at the time we didn’t know it wasn’t a real gun, and we had concerns for the safety of the kids on the playground with an armed robber on the loose,” he said.

“There’s always going to be risk — even driving down the street carries risk — but we try to minimize it as best we can,” Parrott added.

“We try to go in the direction the offender fled in by the most direct route that’s prudent. If we lose sight of him, or he decides to hide the weapon, that creates problems in making the arrest and recovering evidence.

“And if the robber had had a real handgun and had dropped it on the playground and a child had picked it up — that risk has to be weighed against the risk of the police cars driving across the field.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Really

    I witnessed the whole incident and the police officers were extremely cautious. How about we draw a line showing the tracks and how close the armed suspect came to the children playing in the park. This parent needs to thank the police for a job well done and leave tactics to those that know about tactics. I'm sure this concerned parent is so wise on police tactics and what to do when chasing an armed robber. Good job, EPD! Thank you!

  2. Thumbs up to both Evanston

    Thumbs up to both Evanston police and concerned parent. You are both right in your thoughts and actions. You should both be proud.

    1. Bad day for our neighborhood

      First this incident, which is disturbing on it's own fpr many reasons, then later in the evening a shooting and natural gas rupture. WTF is going on around here??

      1. I don’t know about you but I

        I don't know about you but I'm pretty fearful about living on Main Street across from Washington School right about now!!

  3. Great job by the EPD!

    Great job by the EPD! How would that parent felt if the suspect had walked into the park and held him at gunpoint and pistol-whipped him in front of his children? I understand his concern, but he shouldn't criticize the police. If they hadn't caught the jackass, maybe next time he would've used a real gun on someone.

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