‘Minute by minute, you’re either firing at a car or taking a car at gunpoint,’ says judge during bond hearing for alleged ‘one-man crime spree’ shot at by police on Bloomingdale Trail

Rosemary Sobol, Chicago Tribune
·3 min read

A man who allegedly shot at and carjacked several people including two nurses before his alleged “one-man crime spree” ended in less than an hour when police shot at him on The 606 trail Thursday morning, prosecutors said Saturday.

Santiago Leon, 28, appeared before Judge David Navarro, who ordered him held without bond during a livestreamed hearing after his lawyer said his actions on Thursday morning were an “aberration.”

“Aberration or not … you were a one-man crime spree,” Navarro said before denying bail for Leon.

“Minute by minute, you’re either firing at a car or taking a car at gunpoint. ... Ultimately (you’re) involved in shooting with a police officer on The 606 trail, where there are always people,” Navarro said.

Leon, who was also wearing a GPS device as part of one of the pending cases, a domestic violence case, during the attacks, was charged with attempted murder, vehicular hijacking, robbery, aggravated discharge of a firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm, attempted vehicular carjacking, aggravated assault of a peace officer and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, linking to six crimes that happened around 7 a.m. Thursday on the Northwest Side, officials said.

Leon also has a pending order of protection case, for which he is out on bond, according to Navarro.

Police said Leon was arrested at 7:35 a.m. Thursday after being “positively identified” as the person who participated in an attempted carjacking during which he fired a gun in the 3700 block of West Hirsch Street; another attempted carjacking while armed in the 1500 block of North Avers Avenue; an armed robbery in the 3800 block of West North Avenue; a vehicle theft that also involved him firing a gun in the 1500 block of North Hamlin Avenue; and an aggravated assault of a police officer in the 1700 block of North Lawndale Avenue, police said.

According to prosecutors, two of the carjacked victims were nurses coming home from an overnight shift at a hospital.

Leon’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood, said he has lived with his mom at the same address for one year and is the father of two minor children. He attended Roberto Clemente high school through the 11th grade, and he has held a full-time construction position, which also involves moving.

Smallwood pointed out the two pending cases he has were not violent.

“The alleged offenses do seem to be an aberration from what my client’s general behavior is,” Smallwood said in court.

But Navarro said, his voice cracking at points, that he believes Leon poses a threat to the safety of “every person” in the community.

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown weighed in on the situation at an earlier news conference after Leon’s arrest.

“We’re sworn to protecting in these circumstances,” Brown said. “This was a very violent crime spree where the person pulled guns and shot at several people in a crime spree, and our officers were able to pursue this person.”

Leon, of the 1800 block of North Drake Avenue, is due back in court at the Skokie courthouse on Thursday.

rsobol@chicagotribune.com