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By Megan Dooley
Oak Park police Monday afternoon released images of the man believed to be responsible for an attack and robbery that occurred on the 300 block of North Oak Park Avenue on April 28. Police have said the same suspect is possibly responsible for four similar attacks on lone women in Oak Park since March 30.
However, for the first time, police also suggested Monday that more than one man, or perhaps a pair of men working in tandem, could be responsible for the unnerving series of attacks. That possibility was raised since the photo image did not closely match a witness description after the second attack.
The photo images were taken from a bank surveillance camera on the West Side of Chicago, where the suspect attempted to use an ATM card taken from the robbery victim to withdraw money.
The robbery occurred just before 8 p.m., when the victim was approached from behind and placed in a chokehold in an alley behind First United Methodist Church. According to police reports of the incident, the suspect demanded the victim hand over her debit card, and then fled the scene.
The images show a black man with facial hair, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. The latest robbery victim described her attacker as a black male between 20 and 30 years old, 5-feet, 10-inches, 160 pounds, with short hair and possible facial stubble. His clothing was described as a black zip-up jacket, a dark shirt and dark jeans.
The public safety message states that experts are working to enhance the fuzzy digital images to offer a clearer picture of the suspect. Anyone who recognizes the man is asked to call 708-386-3800, or anonymously at 708-434-1636.
According to the notice, police have not ruled out the possibility that all five incidents, which shared similar circumstances, might be the work of separate individuals, or could have been carried out by a pair of suspects working together. "These images...do not closely match the computer-generated sketch created with the help of the second victim, the only one of the five women to get a close look at her assailant, further suggesting a pair of robbers," read the public safety alert.
But Oak Park Commander LaDon Reynolds said that it's still likely that all five crimes were committed by the same man. "They all have a very similar M.O.," he said.
While they work to investigate the series of robberies, police are recommending that residents, especially females, refrain from being out alone after dark.
"We're asking everybody to remain vigilant," said Reynolds, adding that police escorts are available upon request.