Recent parolee charged in stabbing at Gold Coast restaurant
(MCT) — Just one day after attending a meeting to reintroduce felons into their communities, a recent parolee with a decades-long rap sheet and history of violence stabbed an Oak Brook doctor during an attempted holdup at a Gold Coast restaurant over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Jimmy Harris, 56, had been freed from prison just eight days earlier, authorities said.
Harris, who has past gang ties, has at least 60 arrests and nine felony convictions dating to the late 1970s, according to Chicago police, state and court records.
"This defendant is clearly a danger to the community," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said in court of Harris, clad in a black sweatshirt and khaki pants with his hair in long braids. He kept his hands behind his back and answered, "Yes, sir," when the judge asked him if he understood the proceedings.
Judge Edward Harmening ordered Harris held without bond during a hearing Monday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Harris, who was living at the Pacific Garden Mission homeless shelter since his release from prison, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and unlawful restraint in the attack on Dr. Mir Jafar Shah and a bartender Saturday night after the Lights Festival attended by tens of thousands along the Magnificent Mile.
After an evening out with family to watch the festival, Shah, a suburban oncologist, went into the bathroom inside the Chicago Westin's Grill on the Alley restaurant, where Harris approached him from behind and announced a robbery, according to prosecutors and police. Harris stabbed the doctor in the right side of his neck and face, Scaduto said, and as the victim turned and started screaming for help, Harris punched him in the eye.
Shah tried to grab Harris' arms to "prevent him from cutting" him any further, Scaduto said, and tried to pull Harris out of the bathroom so his cries for help could be heard. Shah was finally able to break free and run back into the restaurant.
Moments later, witnesses saw Harris leaving the hotel with blood on his hands and clothes and holding a knife, Scaduto said. The bartender at the restaurant chased Harris out the door and tried to stop him on the street, but Harris turned and stabbed him once in the chest, she said.
Harris was arrested in a bathroom at the nearby Cheesecake Factory restaurant, where police recovered a bloody knife, the prosecutor said.
Shah remained in Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Monday with what prosecutors said were stab wounds to the neck and face and blurry vision from the punch to the eye. The bartender was released from the hospital after receiving stitches for the chest wound. He declined to comment when reached by phone Monday.
Harris' latest arrest came a day after he attended the Summit of Hope event at Malcolm X College, where social service officials offer assistance to former offenders in an attempt to help them "reintegrate safely into society," according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Harris was released from prison Nov. 9 after a 2007 armed robbery in which authorities said Harris stole and later broke several bottles of rum from a Near West Side grocery. While trying to escape, according to court records, Harris used the glass shards to cut a store security guard.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to downplay the weekend stabbing as an isolated incident and spoke of the need to be vigilant against violence across the city.
"It's not about just the Magnificent Mile," Emanuel said at an unrelated new conference. "I want Roseland as safe as Ravenswood, I want South Shore as safe as Sauganash and I want Woodlawn as safe as Wildwood. And I won't rest until that happens."