A man accused of a fatal robbery at a CTA station in the Loop last week admitted his role and told investigators the victim ‘could still be alive’ if he hadn’t fought back, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Anthony Rawls Jr., 28, faces charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery in the Sept. 6 attack on Michael Byrnes, 41, as he was returning home from work, according to the Cook County District Attorney’s Office.
The fatal attack comes as the Chicago Police Department and the CTA continue to struggle to bring rampant violent crime affecting the transit system under control.
At a bail hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors said Byrnes left the restaurant he was running around 10:55 p.m. and went to catch a train at the LaSalle/Van Buren stop, 121. W. Van Buren St. Surveillance footage then shows Rawls and another person approaching. Byrnes.
After punching Byrnes in the face and chest and knocking him to the ground, Rawls and the other person briefly walked away, prosecutors said. They came back and started dragging Byrnes as Rawls kicked and swung him around.
Rawls then pinned Byrnes to a station pillar while the other attacker stabbed him in the upper body, prosecutors said. A witness called 911 after hearing “growling noises” and seeing the two running south on LaSalle after committing what she believed was a robbery.
Byrnes was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead from stab wounds to the neck, chest and back.
Detectives reviewed video that showed Rawls and the other person jumping in a Monte Carlo registered to Rawls, prosecutors said. Video and license plate readers were used to track the car to its home in Washington Park, where Byrnes’ phone rang and was discovered in an alley.
Two officers who stopped the car in July were able to identify Rawls, whom they remembered from his “unique goatee” with beads, prosecutors said. He was further identified by his girlfriend’s sister, who had been living with the couple since June.
At a press conference Wednesday at police headquarters, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said Rawls’ accomplice had been identified but remained at large. Deenihan would not say if a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
When Rawls was arrested Monday, he still had the distinctive goatee and a cast on his arm that was seen in surveillance footage, prosecutors said. He told investigators he was fitted with the cast after he was shot.
After initially denying involvement in the attack, Rawls confessed to stealing Byrnes’ phone and money when presented with some of the evidence, prosecutors said. He then laid “most of the blame” on his accomplice but eventually admitted punching Byrnes and restraining him during the stabbing.
Rawls had no remorse and insisted to investigators that Byrnes ‘shouldn’t have fought back’, noting that if he had ‘just been lying there then he might still be alive’ . He has no criminal history, prosecutors said.
He was taken into custody without bail at the request of prosecutors. His next court date has been set for October 3.