Bargain-hungry shoppers who flock downtown to take advantage of Black Friday sales could seem like easy targets for thieves.
But amid the throngs near the
One of the Good Samaritans, Mike Hochhauser, 31, said he didn't hesitate to chase Richard D. Mendoza, 31, once he stepped out of his building and allegedly saw Mendoza stomping on a woman while trying to steal her purse.
"Honestly, I just started running after him, thinking, 'I'm not going to let this guy get away with this. There's no way I'm going to let that happen to somebody,'" Hochhauser said.
Mendoza probably would have gotten away if not for the efforts of Hochhauser and the other two people who chased him, said Police Officer Patrick Bryant, who helped arrest Mendoza.
"We were just amazed," Bryant said. "I would definitely not recommend everybody do that, but if more citizens got involved as they did, there would be a lot less crime in the city."
The victim, a 44-year-old Chicago resident, was walking on East Erie Street near North Wabash Avenue when Mendoza allegedly attacked, kicking and punching her before stealing her purse, police said.
Only two of the people who chased Mendoza saw the attack, but all three said they heard the victim's screams.
Angela Deleon, who works for a valet parking company nearby, said she heard the woman yell and saw Hochhauser chasing Mendoza. Deleon, 38, joined in the pursuit, calling 911 to give a description of Mendoza before returning to the victim, who was still lying on the ground, conscious but crying. Deleon said she didn't hesitate to chase Mendoza and call police.
"I've got a mom. I've got sisters," she said. "And I would like for somebody else to do the same if that ever happens (to them)."
Meanwhile, Kris Frieden, a tourist from suburban Indianapolis, was riding in his minivan with his wife when he heard a "blood-curdling scream" and saw Mendoza running toward Michigan Avenue, followed by Hochhauser. Frieden, 44, hopped out and ran after them. The three darted across Michigan Avenue, dodging cars that had a green light, he said.
Frieden said he and Hochhauser briefly lost Mendoza when he ducked into an alley, but then saw him a few moments later as he ran back toward Michigan Avenue.
Mendoza hopped in a cab, but Frieden and Hochhauser blocked the rear passenger doors and yelled at the driver to stay put, they said. Police arrived a few moments later and arrested Mendoza.
"It was perfect," said Hochhauser. "When he got in the cab, it was great because it was almost like a mini jail cell. He gets in there, we close both sides of the doors so he can't get out."
Mendoza, of the 1600 block of North Talman Avenue, was charged with strong-arm robbery and battery, police said. He has 14 prior arrests and four convictions, police said — one for armed robbery, one for strong-arm robbery and two for residential burglaries.
Mendoza is on parole and was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet when he was arrested, police said.
The victim was treated and released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Frieden, who was spending the weekend in the city with his five children, had a simple for reason for chasing down Mendoza.
"I guess it's just the golden rule," he said. "It's just the right thing to do."