BUCKTOWN — A woman watched a driver leave the scene after he crashed his black 2013 Infiniti into a fence Tuesday, then used social media to alert neighbors who later cornered the man — but police let him go without making an arrest.
The incident happened about 2:30 p.m., according to a Bucktown woman who said she heard a loud crash and then looked out her window to see a man at the southeast corner of Armitage and Wolcott.
"I overheard the driver talking to a repairmen, saying, 'I gotta take off. I'm going to jail if they get me,'" the woman posted on Facebook.
The woman, who declined to be named, said the man abandoned his car and ran away, headed south on Wolcott Street.
Police responded quickly to her 911 call, but only one officer was dispatched, and he stayed at the scene to write up the report on the abandoned car.
The woman posted the man's photo on a Bucktown Neighborhood Watch page, and someone said he saw the man — white, tall and thin with a beard, wearing a black T-shirt and black jeans — walking out of Lottie's, a bar at 1925 W. Cortland St.
John Meyer, another Bucktown resident, found the man near Lottie's and cornered him in an alley. Meyer was able to flag down a police car.
Meyer, along with two other residents, waited with police for the woman who posted the photo of the man after the car crashed, to arrive and tell police what she had seen.
Because the woman only saw the man run away from the car and not actually get out of the car, police told her they could not arrest the man.
The woman said she alerted neighbors because she thought the man might have been intoxicated and called the whole incident "unsettling."
Meyer, the woman and the two residents at the scene, said they were disappointed but understood the process and why police could not make the arrest.
"There is nothing the police can do without an eyewitness. If these guys don't play by the rules, how can we expect anyone else to?" Meyer said.
The car was towed away by Streets and Sanitation around 3:30 p.m., and according to a Shakespeare District police officer, it will be impounded.
"He's off the streets for now," the police officer told the woman.