CHICAGO (CBS) — An employee was on his way to work at an elementary school in the Humboldt Park neighborhood Wednesday morning, and it’s safe to say it was the last place the Chicago man thought he would be the victim of an attempted carjacking.

The encounter left him angry, and concerned for the students. He shared what happened with CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra.

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The West Humboldt Park neighborhood is no stranger to carjackings. But this one attempt stood out, and not just because the victim called us.

It was because it happened in the morning, outside a school – with kids inside.

“I’m in the anger stage right now,” said the school employee, Gary, whose first name is all he is comfortable sharing after what he experienced Wednesday morning. “The shock has sort of dissipated. I’m in the anger stage.”

Gary said he was leaving his car to head into work at Polaris Charter Academy, 620 N. Sawyer Ave.

“As I’m crossing the street, I see three young gentlemen,” Gary said. “I hate to use that term.”

He hates to use it because this happened in broad daylight, after 8:30 a.m. Kids had just started class, when he says the main suspect said came up demanded his keys.

“‘Uh, give me your car keys!’ and then I said, ‘Go away, leave me alone,’” Gary said. “Then he said again, ‘Give me your car keys,’ and I said a couple of expletives to him.”

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In exchange, Gary says that suspect – looking to be somewhere between 15 and 20 years old – made a fist and started swinging.

“Yeah, right on the side of the head here about three, four times because he was frustrated or whatever, in terms of I wouldn’t give up my keys,” Gary said. “The second I reached into my pocket for my cell phone, he started to run off and ran off the block.”

Gary said he never saw a weapon, wasn’t hurt badly, and managed to keep his car. He considers himself lucky he wasn’t the victim of one of the 66 successful carjackings in Humboldt Park so far this year.

That’s figure 17 more than in 2020, according to our CBS 2 Carjacking Tracker. The neighborhood is also not far from two other West Side hotspots for the crime. Garfield Park has seen 104 this year, and Austin has seen the most in 2021 with 120 carjackings.

“My biggest concern was about the kids,” Gary said.

Gary filed a police report and notified the alderman, with the hope something can be done around the school to increase security so no one else at Polaris has a morning like he did.

“I’m just concerned for their safety,” Gary said. “You know, if it can happen to me, it can happen to them.”

After the incident, Gary questioned whether or not the school had any surveillance cameras that were rolling on campus at the time he was attacked.

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We reached out to Polaris for clarity on what kind of surveillance system they may have, but did not hear back by our deadline.

Marie Saavedra