CHICAGO (STMW) — As thousands looked up at the fireworks over Navy Pier at 9:45 p.m. Thursday, Gary Dailey focused on a tall guy in a red shirt. The two were in a foot chase. About 30 feet separated them, he recounted to the Chicago Sun-Times

Moments earlier, Dailey, a 51-year-old real estate broker, was weaving his way through a stalled crowd at the mouth of the pedestrian tunnel leading under Lake Shore Drive and up to Division Street. He made his way to the front and saw why the masses were hesitant to proceed. A group of about 50 young people were in the middle of the tunnel screaming and pushing and throwing stuff.

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“I thought about walking to the next underpass, but I was just too tired,” said Dailey, who was headed to his girlfriend’s place. As he passed the rowdy group, a man bumped into him and reached for the cell phone in Dailey’s pocket. “I said ‘What the f*** are you doing?’ and slapped his hand away,” said Dailey, who kept walking. A few seconds later he heard a scream and turned to see a man snatching a woman’s cellphone.

“She yelled, ‘You son of a b****!’ and threw her water bottle at him,” Dailey said. “This woman was all of 5-foot-1 and he was 6-[foot]-5 and I just got extremely angry. I was just sick of it.”

Dailey, a former track athlete and marathoner, ran after the guy. The man ran north for four blocks before circling back toward Division. Dailey tried to call 911 on his cell as he ran but gave up because he was losing ground.

Others apparently had the same idea.

The sound of sirens grew louder and louder, and seconds later, Dailey was pointing police toward the man.

He barely had time to catch his breath before two officers brought the man in the red shirt back to where he was standing.

“Sure enough, it was him,” Dailey said. Another witness came forward to say he saw the man throw a cellphone during the chase.

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Quejuan Henley, 18, of the 1300 block of East 72nd Street, was charged with felony robbery, police said.

“Another officer tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘There’s someone I want you to meet,’ and there was the woman who got robbed. She had a small child with her, and she just said, ‘Thank you so much’ and gave me a hug.”

Her cellphone was cracked. Police later told Dailey that the woman, who was from out of town, tried to chase the man as well, but someone in the crowd tripped her.

“She skinned both her knees,” said Dailey, who lives near the Old Irving neighborhood on the Northwest Side. “My youngest brother is a cop in the 15th District. That’s the reason I did this. He constantly complains to me that a bunch of these crimes happen and people just stand around and stare and no one helps.”

Dailey, who was born and raised in Chicago and attended Lane Tech High School, said he was happy he was there to help.

“I feel very good about it. My father and mother always said that a man’s job is to defend the old, the weak and woman and children who get preyed upon. . . . I wish I could have caught him, but I was just happy enough I could stay close.”

Dailey finally made it to his girlfriend’s place later that night and told her the story.

“She said, ‘I would have liked to have seen that.'”

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(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)