Two men who robbed a quick loan store in Oak Park at gunpoint and shot at an Oak Park police officer last Tuesday were caught in Austin after crashing their getaway car. The robbers are suspected in six other robberies of quick loan stores in the Chicago area in the past six weeks.
John Smith, 37, of 2526 W. Monroe and Ricky Weeks, 29, of 4310 S. Haddon, Chicago, were arrested shortly after they stole about $200 from the Check 'n Go at 7101 North Ave. They were charged with multiple counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault and aggravated unlawful restraint.
Police say the men entered the store around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3, one armed with a loaded 38 revolver. The men immediately disarmed the security guard of his loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and locked the guard and another employee in a bathroom. The robbers then demanded that the store manager open the store's safe.
An Oak Park police officer, who was on an off-duty detail at a business only a few doors down from the Check 'n Go, heard the police radio call on the robbery after the manager hit a silent alarm. The officer confronted Smith and Weeks in the store, prompting the robbers to flee through a rear door with only the cash from a register.
The police officer chased the men eastbound through a rear alley. According to police, Weeks ran to a 1997 Oldsmobile Aurora parked nearby. Smith, still on the run, attempted to shoot at the officer, but the gun malfunctioned.
"Smith ducked behind a parked car and pointed and squeezed the trigger of his gun," said Oak Park Police Cmdr. Robert Scianna. "The gun was pointed at (the officer) and apparently misfired. The primer was struck, but it misfired," he said, adding police recovered the 38 revolver and ammunition.
Two Chicago police officers were monitoring the chase, and they followed the car once it crossed into the 25th District, said Chicago Police Department spokesperson Officer Thomas Donegan.
Smith and Weeks bailed out of their car after crashing into a parked car in the parking lot of a factory in the 4900 block of West LeMoyne.
"The two got out of the car, and one of the offenders pointed a gun at the officers. Both officers fired at the man," said Donegan. Weeks and Smith were taken to the 25th District police station and turned over to Oak Park police.
Police were unable to find the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun after revisiting the scene of the arrests the day following the robbery.
Police are investigating whether Weeks and Smith are connected to six other Check 'n Go robberies that happened in the Chicago area in the last six weeks, including a robbery on Aug. 8 at the same Oak Park store. The offenders in the August robbery fled with $3,550 from the store and $5 from a customer.
Cook County Judge Judy Mitchell-Davis set Smith's bond at $500,000 cash and denied bond for Weeks. The two remain in custody pending trial after their case was continued on Sept. 6.
Oak Park was also assisted in the chase by River Forest and Forest Park police departments.