BUCKTOWN — A bizarre scene played out on a quiet block in Bucktown Thursday night as a 38-year-old man walked down a residential street smashing cars windows while staring down police officers who shined spotlights and tried to stop him, police and witnesses said.
The man ignored police, and as one witness described, brazenly smashed window after window before holing up in a nearby home's doorway and smashing the plate glass windows of the home.
Police said the man, identified as Edgar Santana, wielded a bag full of glass bottles as his weapon, using them to shatter windows.
He fought through pepper spray — it was used "to no avail," police said — as well as Tasers and an officer's billy club blows, a witness said.
Officers who were part of the "massive police presence" eventually tackled the man and shackled him, said neighbor Dave McKinney, a Chicago journalist who witnessed the bizarre scene from across the street.
McKinney describes the rampage:
Shards of glass after Thursday night's mayhem; Cops arresting the alleged suspect. (Courtesy of Bucktown Neighborhood Watch)
As the roughly 5-foot-9, 200-plus-pound man was hauled away by officers, McKinney said he could hear him tell police: "Your country will cease to exist."
Santana, of the 2700 block of North Newland Avenue, was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery/causing bodily harm and 7 charges of criminal damage to property less than $300. each, said Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman.
Since all of the charges are misdemeanors and not felonies, there is no mug shot available for Santana.
Santana is scheduled to appear in Cook County Court Branch 23, 5555 W. Grand Ave. on August 5.
The carnage left behind included windows broken on at least six cars, including the back window of a squad car, flipped-over garbage cans, two smashed plate glass windows — and a stunned neighborhood, an area that includes the nearby home of famed chef Rick Bayless.
"Everyone was dumbstruck in the neighborhood," McKinney said. "I have to say, I was impressed by the restraint these cops used. This guy was just as brazen as could be. But they never appeared to strike him in the head. They didn't fire at him."
It all played out around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, said Sedevic.
The initial call came in as a man flipping over garbage cans in a nearby alley, she said.
Police responded, but by then the man had moved to the 1700 block of North Hermitage, where he began his assault on the cars parked on the west side of Hermitage, McKinney said. Police said the man also smashed windows in the 1700 block of North Wood.
"I was getting ready to go to bed when I heard a series of crashing sounds outside," McKinney said. "I came down, looked out the front window, and I see this guy with something in his hand, I can't tell what."
At this point, police squad cars arrived and officers trained their spotlights on him. Eventually, some 20 police officers were on the block, trying to get the man to stop, McKinney said.
"They got out. They tried to tell him to stop, put his weapon down," said McKinney, who said the man stared at the officers but didn't stop. "That was the creepy thing, it was almost like he was taunting them. ... It was brazen. He just kept bashing car windows in, right in front of them."
The man then holed up in the doorway of a home that had once been a store or tavern.
"He just takes whatever was in his hands, and starts smashing the windows," McKinney said. " And he's smashing it with his hands while the people who live there were watching from the upstairs windows."
The man then took that broken glass and began throwing shards at officers. One of the officers was injured and taken to a local hospital, Sedevic said.
At this point, officers had their guns drawn, surrounding him, McKinney said. He was pepper-sprayed, and then hit with a stun gun.
One officer got close enough to strike his body with a billy club. The man simply stood there, with his arms folded, absorbing the blows to his mid-section, McKinney said.
"It was like he wasn't being touched. Like he wasn't feeling anything," McKinney said.
Police then moved in and tackled and shackled him.
"I talked to one of the officers, and he suspected he was high on something," McKinney said.
Brett Grudzien, a Bucktown resident, was on his way home from a softball game and witnessed the tail end of the arrest.
"Based on what I witnessed, he seemed irate, perhaps on drugs," Grudzien said. "They brought an ambulance to get him checked out and put him in a wagon and everything went off without a hitch. Lots of broken glass everywhere."
The police spokesman said that the incident report did not include any information about drugs.
Steve Jensen, creator of the Bucktown Neighborhood Watch, did not see the arrest but said: "With the reduced police presence that we have seen in the 14th District over the past six years, we appreciate the response that we saw during this incident where multiple officers responded."
Shakespeare District Police in front of a home in the 1700 block of N. Hermitage Ave. (Courtesy of Brett Grudzien)
A shard of bloody glass found on the ground after Thursday night's mayhem (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)
Blood on the sidewalk in front of a home in the 1700 block of N. Hermitage Ave. (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)
A button found on the ground amid the broken glass of Thursday night's mayhem (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)
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