CHICAGO (CBS) — An ex-convict and habitual criminal has been charged with the weekend stabbing of a 67-year-old man at the Westin Hotel in the Gold Coast.
Jimmy Harris, 56, of Chicago, was charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, and one count of aggravated unlawful restraint, according to police.
The attack happened at 8 p.m. Saturday in the 900 block of North Michigan Avenue, officials said. Paramedics took a man with a neck stab wound in serious condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
According to family, the victim stabbed in the neck was Oak Brook oncologist Mir Shah. He and his family had just attended the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, a tree-lighting parade, and were having dinner The Grill, which is connected to the hotel.
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Shah headed to the restroom, where he was attacked.
“(He) came running out of the restroom holding his neck, yelling, ‘Someone attacked me,’” a family member, who asked not to be identified, told Newsradio 780. “We held pressure on (his) neck and we were able to stabilize him temporarily at least. We kept yelling for an ambulance and finally got him into an ambulance.”
A 35-year-old hotel employee reportedly tried to detain the suspect and also was injured. He was good condition at the hospital with a cut to the chest.
Police said the attack was part of a robbery attempt. Saturday wasn’t Harris’s first run-in with the law. Court records indicate he’s been arrested more than 60 times on charges that include robbery, burglary, aggravated battery and causing great bodily harm.
He was serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery when he paroled Nov. 9 –just one week before the attack.
“We have a problem, in that people get turned around very quickly in the state of Illinois and put back out on the street, and in this case it’s a parolee who’s sent to a homeless shelter,” Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday.
Witnesses said they saw police storm into the nearby The Cheesecake Factory and a man taken into custody near the Hancock Center.
Managers at Cheesecake and Westin declined to comment.
But Cesar Gonzalez and Nancy Camacho, who both live on the South Side, said they were on their way to an 8 p.m. reservation at a nearby restaurant when they saw a man and police.
“We just heard someone say, ‘He has the wallet,’ ” Gonzalez said.
An apparent employee from the Westin ran to the corner of Michigan and Delaware, and jumped and kicked the suspect with a “karate move,” Camacho said.
“He jumped up and kicked him,” she said.
“They fell and we saw the knife,” said Gonzalez, 29, who added that the knife was about six inches long. “The kid got up and ran down the stairs and he tripped and fell [near the Cheesecake Factory].”
Meanwhile, Sara Cleary said she and a group of five friends were eating at the Cheesecake Factory when police stormed in.
“We were trying to figure out what was going on,” said Cleary, 32, of Findlay, Ohio.
Bystanders looked on as yellow tape blocked off a portion of the hotel outside. Blood was visible on the ground. About 10:20 p.m., the tape was removed and a worker used a power wash to clean the blood.
Gonzalez said he is now is keeping his wallet in his vest pocket.
“That’s crazy,” he said.
Camacho, 30, added, “There’s so many people around so many kids. It’s just sad.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)