Robber Pushes Woman Down Stairs At ‘L’ Stop; Victim Dies

UPDATED 03/29/11 10:05 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A woman has died after an attack in broad daylight at the busy Fullerton Avenue ‘L’ stop, but she wasn’t even the intended target.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller Reports

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, police say on Monday afternoon, the robber was trying to get away at the busy Red-Brown-Purple line stop, which is one of the system’s busiest.

In the process, he pushed a 68-year-old Sally Katona-King, who was standing at the top of the stairs leading back down from the ‘L’ platform, and left her critically injured.

Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports Chicago Police have been passing out fliers in the Lincoln Park area – around the Fullerton ‘L’ stop.

Area 3 Detective Commander Gary Yamashiroya tells CBS 2’s Mike Parker, “Because there is a death involved, we are investigating this as seriously as any homicide.”

Police describe the robber as an African-American male wearing a black hat, a black jacket with the letters “WS” on the back and blue jeans.

At the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Logan Square where Katona-King served as deacon, she was remembered with admiration.

Always kind. Always positive. A natural personality of hospitality.

That’s how 68-year-old Sally Katona-King is described by her boss, Bishop Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“We’ll remember her as friend. And not just as friend to us because we worked with her, but as someone who was a natural friend to almost everyone she encountered,” Miller tells Newsradio 780.

Said Pastor Eardley Mendis, “We have a homeless program here, a feeding program, and she cooks often for the homeless crowd and she loved the people and made everybody happy here.”

Katona-King was known for her work with the homeless in Logan Square, and worked as a receptionist at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Metropolitan Chicago Synod.

A friend, Pastor Ruth VanDemark, says Katona-King was no stranger to tragedy, “She had a grandchild who died at a very young age because, I believe, it was a fire. Her first husband also died – I think they were co-owners of a tavern or something in Chicago – and he was also a victim of, I think, an armed robbery.”

VanDemark says Sally Katona-King worked to help the homeless – cooking meals for them at her church.

“Anything that happens, she’s there to comfort them and console them,” said friend Leona Kerchner. “I’ve never seen anybody like her in my life.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel Reports

Katona-King, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and died sometime Tuesday, police said.

“We found out this morning, and it’s just very shocking.” said Jeff Drake, associate to the bishop.

The robber had stolen a woman’s iPhone on a Chicago Transit Authority Brown Line train. He was pushing through the crowd to escape as the victim chased him.

“We are saddened to learn the woman injured at the Fullerton Brown Line station yesterday has passed away,” CTA spokesperson Wanda Taylor said Tuesday afternoon. “CTA continues to work closely with the Chicago Police Department to provide whatever assistance we can for their investigation.”

Police say the robber bumped Katona-King right as he got to the stairs, and knocked her down.

“She tumbled down, and he said there was blood everywhere, and they weren’t sure if she was going to make it,” said DePaul student Ariane Ackerberg. “They said he just left her there and just kept running with the other lady’s phone.”

Ackerberg was just outside the Fullerton ‘L’ stop around 4:20 p.m. Monday, and said she talked with a CTA worker who was looking for help.

She said there were “a lot of people huddled around her, there was just, like I said a lot of blood. It was just devastating.”

“It sounded horrible,” Ackerberg said. “She was just an innocent bystander.”

Ackerberg said just being there when it happened makes her think twice about her safety.

“I have never had an issue on the train, but hearing stuff like this, which does happen every now and then, it’s just scary,” she said. “It makes me more secure of my surroundings, and stuff like that.”

Another student who often takes the ‘L’ agreed,

“It kind makes you wonder, like, what are these people thinking; she’s 68 years old?” said Yvette Ocampo. “It makes the world a little sad.”

Police are looking for one suspect. They won’t say if the incident was captured on surveillance camera.

  • Joanie. Spencer

    I was on the L at this time, it happen around 4:30pm not overnight. The man stole someone’s cell phone..

  • bill

    I know the woman and unfortunatley she died this morning. I hope that they catch the person responsible.

  • Agreed

    Pretty much 100% sure of that!! Nice description of the suspect given in this article. I suppose cbs is worried about having to censor more comments singling out the “poor black”!!! I hope the poor woman will be OK.

  • Jim

    Another reason why we need concealed carry in Illinois

    • joe

      Yes, then the woman could have fired into a crowded train platform and more people could have died.

      • gee-reg

        HEY JOE BLOW ——-So you justify her death with your dream about what could have happened if she was armed !!!!

      • Jim

        No I dont recommend firing into a crowd over a cell phone, I recommend someone with a licensed handgun to Intervene and detain this loser. If everyone had a handgun these thugs would start thinking twice about this line of work. God bless the victim and her family.

    • Fitz Daily

      Jim, concealed weapons don’t stop punks from pushing old ladies down the stairs.

      • Jim

        Yes but they could remove this waste product from society and save the tax payers a trial.

  • whats wrong with everyone

    Chicago is a toilet. Anyone who lives there that is not very well off financially is just plain stupid.

  • Chivi

    Need to get rid of the Mission located just south of Roosevelt on Canal Street. If there was a metal detector at the Mission, guns and weapons could be found on those people. A sweep needs to be done. There are also people staying there overnight who have warrants. Some of the employees are dealing drugs and selling alcohol fo the transients..

  • JM

    CTA crime is out of control. 3000 cops short and none available to patrol the system to stop the Punks flooding the system for IPhones. Attention CTA riders, put you phones away and quit making yourself victims. The person next to you is about to rip you off.

  • citizen

    the guardian angels caught 2 of the 3 kids doing this on at least 3 different train lines (same description of the kids). catch the last one and charge hi with murder and all the thefts and how about terrorism to his fellow Chicagoans.
    this is not a game anymore police do your job and lock these kids up for life -they all deserve it! (the have actually independently earned the right too be locked up for life all by their own doings!
    ENOUGH ALREADY – new start for Chicago how about it new police chief?
    2012 the future can be hell or a new beginning with hope and people who treat each other with respect and kindness.

    “Here I am flaunting my self control” (Ed Roland)

  • Friend

    I was Sally’s friend for over 60 years and knew her to be a very loving, caring, and hardworking woman. She gave love unconditionally and was a loyal friend. She always had a smile on her face, even when times were tough. She gave all that she could to others. So, to the man who pushed her and ran away, was the phone worth taking away such a remarkable woman? Will you ever be able to fill her shoes in this world?


    Apply tougher sentences for criminals gone wild. They have no regards for human life. Not enough REAL MEN anymore. By the way, you can have the same thing IF U WORK FOR IT!!!!!

  • r


  • gee-reg

    Lets see if father Flakey or the reverund Jack#ss complain about this death Naw ofcourse not she was white and they NEVER complain about a white person being killed

  • concern citizen

    my condolences and deepest sympathy to the family. GOD BLESS.hope they catch the person.senseless.

  • John Hanson

    Of course the person that did it is black, I’ve never lived anywhere where the stereotype supported itself more than Chicago.

  • Taxpayer 2

    If this punk is caught, he should be put in front of a firing squad and killed. It’s just that simple. He took a person life, he have to give up his life.

    The laws that we have need to be revised and enforce. Time to stop babying these punk and get tough. Then these fools will think more than twice when doing stupid things. Time to get real and time to get tough.

    Most of the time the police is doing their job. But the judicial system is not doing theirs. A lot of dumb laws are still on the books. Remember, the woes are getting worst.

    God bless Chicago. And God bless America.

  • Taxpayer 2

    I meant to write, most of the police are doing their job.

  • John

    It’s sad that of all the places that I’ve lived, Chicago African Americans perpetuate the stereotype more than anywhere else.

  • Taxpayer 2

    It is never about a white person or a black person. It is always about good and evil. It about satin children and God children. Always has and always will. God bless you.

  • Taxpayer 2

    United States have become a wicked nation. Trying to take God out of everything in this country. Some peoples believe that they do not need God. Since the bibles and prayer have been taken out of schools, look at the school now.

    Then you watch television and that’s exactly what it is telling you a vision from the dark side that is control by satin. The spirits planted seeds of unbelief and doubt. You reap what you sow. That is a spiritual law. It’s still about spiritual warfare, nothing has changed.

  • Argumentative Viewpoints

    I am content with the term “African-American”. It is a legitimate ethic identification. I know people might be critical of that term but still formal way of identifying the criminal.

    The criminal was very criminally motivated on the fact that he picked the busiest train line at the busiest time. Ambition is taken into account on the fact that he did dramatic measure to evade the victim. People are less likely to help at this scenario except where the platform and the stair are less likely to be crowded.

    One comment pointed out that we should conceal carry. Objection was raised that more people will be kill. Unfortunately, firing gun in a crowded area isn’t a good thing. Police ask that people “get down” if they were aiming at the dangerous criminal for this situation. Chaos would follow if the concealed weapon carrier did draw the gun in this situation. However, concealed carry weapon is a legal right according to the federal permit for concealed carry. If you want to conceal carry weapon, you should take class for conceal carry permit in any state. Any state will certify you for Illinois and bypass the state law.

    JM made a fine point. If you have valuable object, you shouldn’t use it on public transportation, but you have every right to use it publically regardless. It is the benefit of reducing chance of being targetted for mugging and thieving.

    I hope that the death penalty is revive and reform to punish this crimininally motivated fanatic for his criminally ambitious action regardless of race, color, religion, sex, etc.

  • Police Search For Robber Who Killed Woman At ‘L’ Stop « CBS Chicago

    […] CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, on Monday afternoon, the robber was running away with an iPhone he had stolen on a CTA Brown Line tr… She was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead […]

  • Police To Release Sketch Of ‘L’ Stop Suspect « CBS Chicago

    […] The manhunt continues for the suspect. On Monday afternoon, he was running away with an iPhone he had stolen on a CTA Brown Line train, whe… […]

  • Retired Officer Says He Saw ‘L’ Stop Suspect « CBS Chicago

    […] Katona-King was pronounced dead Tuesday, the day after the robber pushed her as he ran away with an … […]

  • Teens Caught After Evanston ‘L’ Train Robbery « CBS Chicago

    […] On Monday afternoon, a robber running out of a Brown Line ‘L’ train with a stolen iPhone was run… Katona-King was pronounced dead the following day. […]

  • keyumdi

    Sally was my Aunt. She was a lovely woman. That cellphone company should be ashamed of themselves for not cooperating with the authorities.

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