Austin resident and Whitney Young High School freshman Patrick Easley wants to pursue a career as a criminal lawyer or public defender.
But the 15-year-old received a harsh, early exposure to criminal behavior on May 22, becoming the victim in a robbery on the Blue Line el.
Patrick was on his way home from school that Thursday afternoon. A male youth, possibly in his teens, entered the train car, saw him listening to his iPod and snatched it.
When Patrick stood up and tired to retrieve it the youth flailed an unidentified blunt weapon at him. Patrick, thinking it was a firearm, backed away, and the youth exited the train.
“My first instinct was to try to retrieve my property but I did not want to die over it,” said the Whitney Young freshman.
The circumstances surrounding the incident sound painfully familiar as Patrick became the latest victim of high school-related crime in Chicago this year.
He described his assailant as standing about 5 ft., 11 inches tall, with a slender build and wearing a brown coat. His mother, Patricia Easley, had warned her son about displaying his iPod.
“I have always told him to keep it concealed, but this day he didn’t,” she said.
Patricia had called her son on his cell phone just moments after the robbery. She wanted to remind him to get a haircut before Whitney Young’s school concert that evening. Patrick was scheduled to perform.
“When he told me what happened I was quite upset, not just about the robbery itself, but the fact that no one on the train even so much as asked if he was okay after the incident,” she recalled. “I never would have thought that would happen on an el car containing 13 passengers during rush hour.”
The youngest of three siblings, Patrick is heavily involved in the Westside NAACP, serving on its Youth Council, as well as singing in his school choir. He said the incident resulted in a few nights of mild insomnia. Patrick, though, feels blessed that it did not result in violence, and is hopeful that the police will capture the thief before he commits another crime.
“The police say they are still looking for the perpetrator. They say that there is a possibility that the suspect could have been captured on tape since most train platforms have cameras now.”
Patricia expressed interest in seeing legislation that would make it mandatory for cameras to be on all trains and platforms-or at least a threat of having them present-to discourage robberies.
“Just knowing the thought that cameras are around could save lives,” she insisted. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”
Patrick’s mother, who works as an adjunct professor at Argosy University in Chicago, also is not apprehensive about allowing her son to carry similar devices in the future. She says having them is Patrick’s reward for his academic accomplishments. His iPod, Patricia explained, was his Christmas gift.
“My husband and I decided to let Patrick have a cell phone because, in this day and age, it’s hard to be without one.”
“Patrick is not spoiled,” she added. “He keeps his grades up and he excels in the school choir, so I feel he is upholding his part of the deal.”
Still, Patricia, a regular CTA train rider herself, insists that people be cautious and alert while riding the train.
As for Patrick, he said he might not listen to Li’l Wayne on the train again in the near future. And he hasn’t let the incident deter him from his dream of working in law enforcement.
“I still want to work with alleged criminals,” he said. “I want to stand up for those accused of crimes and guaranteed their fair trial. Their are still many that are innocent that deserve representation.”