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Suspect robs, assaults victims at knifepoint in Chicago's South Loop before fatal crash

South Loop neighbors alarmed by violent crime spree that touched their building
South Loop neighbors alarmed by violent crime spree that touched their building 02:46

CHICAGO (CBS) – Neighbors at a South Loop condo building expressed fears Thursday night, after a suspect went on an hours-long crime spree that began in their building.

The crimes ranged from sexual assault to kidnapping and armed robbery. There were a total of five victims, while the only suspect is dead.

CBS 2's Darius Johnson spoke to neighbors in the condo building at 1516 S. Wabash Ave., who were still on edge after the terrifying encounter.

The details of the crime are bizarre and chilling. Those who live in the Wabash Avenue building say they are going to have a hard time sleeping now.

"I heard there was just a horrible incident. I was on my way to work this morning. I came out the elevator, and there were some wonderful officers in our building," said condo owner Nicolas Palmeri, "and I asked them if it was safe and if I would be OK to leave the building, and they told me yes."

Palmeri and Isabella Henderson were fortunate to receive the all-clear. But what they learned afterward was chilling, to say the least.

"It's very scary," Henderson said. "It makes me feel very uncomfortable."

Police said around 2:30 a.m. Friday, a man made his way into their building and held a woman at knifepoint. That woman, a member of the Chicago Police Department, was sexually assaulted and beaten on the elevator.

Sources told CBS's Suzanne Le Mignot that the off-duty officer's eye socket bone was broken. 

"We, as citizens of Chicago, we need to continue to back the blue," Palmeri said. "We need to support them. We need to empower them to lock up these criminals."

Suspect robs, assaults victims at knifepoint in Chicago's South Loop before fatal crash 02:12

The suspect then forced the 48-year-old off-duty police officer and two 27-year-old women into a unit, where they were all robbed and held at knifepoint. When a man entered the unit, he was also robbed and held at knifepoint.

Police radio dispatch indicated that there was broken glass and "other miscellaneous objects" on the floor in the apartment, but no one was there when officers arrived.

The off-duty officer escaped, and was taken to Rush University Medical Center in fair condition.

Meanwhile, the suspect then forced the remaining three victims into one of the women's cars and went to a Subway restaurant in the 700 block of West 31st Street near Halsted Street. The suspect forced the male victim into the restaurant and took about $400 from the register.

 As he was robbing the restaurant, the suspect also cut a fifth victim, a 36-year-old man who was working at the Subway, on his left shoulder. The fifth victim refused medical attention, police said.

The suspect then returned to the car with the two women inside. The man he had forced into the car managed to get away at the restaurant and did not report any injuries.

Suspect dies in crash after armed robbery, assault spree in Chicago's South Loop 02:40

As the suspect was fleeing, he struck a marked Chicago police car but continued to flee. Minutes later, the suspect crashed in the 3000 block of South Pitney Court, causing the car to flip over. He was ejected from the car and was later pronounced dead at the scene. Sources said the suspect flew through the windshield of the car after impact.

The two 27-year-old women both had unspecified injuries during the crash and were both taken to Stroger Hospital of Cook County in good condition.

Meanwhile, those b ack in the South Loop condo building offered their prayers – while questioning if they still felt safe in a place they call home.

"No. No, I don't," Palmeri said. "This is not a safe place to be."

Late Friday, police had not named the suspect at the helm of the crime.

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