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Disabled Man Beaten, Robbed on SW Side: 'We Feel Scared To Go Out At Night'

By Alex Nitkin | September 10, 2015 9:51am
 Rodriguez shows where robbers hit him with a rock before stealing his wallet.
Rodriguez shows where robbers hit him with a rock before stealing his wallet.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

WEST ELSDON — A week after Leandro Rodriguez was beaten and robbed outside his home, he's lost hope that his attackers will ever be brought to justice.

Late Sept. 2, Rodriguez was walking home from the Pulaski Orange Line station when a man jumped in front of him, threw him against the brick wall of his home and demanded money. From behind him, another man hit him over the back of his head with a rock. 

"I couldn't believe it, it's like they were trying to kill me," said Rodriguez, a 76-year-old retiree. "I don't understand why they'd want to do this to an old man."

Rodriguez is partially blind, with hearing aids in both ears and a chronic leg condition. Before they were done, the robbers bashed him twice in his head, then again in his shoulder, stomach and knee. A week later, his wounds were still visible.

The two youths grabbed his wallet, which had $280 in cash, plus his Medicare and Social Security cards, before running off in different directions.

Rodriguez said his block, the 5300 block of South Hamlin Avenue, has never been known for criminal activity. But this summer, he said, neighbors started to feel less safe than ever. The house across the street, he said, was recently burglarized.

"None of these cases are ever solved, and it sets a precedent that people can get away with anything," Rodriguez said. "The police need to start sending more patrols around here to prevent it, because I don't see them as much anymore."

Most pressing, Rodriguez said, is the lack of lighting all along the block. Without street lights illuminating the row of houses after dark, "we feel scared to go out at night," he said.

It's a problem, said Rodriguez's son Cesar Felipe, that doesn't rest squarely on the local police district.

"Latinos around here have to start being more vocal — we need to be more willing to annoy the police, to annoy the alderman," Felipe said. "There's this sense of apathy that comes from not wanting to deal with the police, but that apathy needs to end. We need to speak out."

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