Chicago Sun-Times

Man charged in fatal Loop CTA stabbing allegedly said victim ‘might still be alive’ if he hadn’t struggled


A man charged in a deadly robbery at a CTA station in the Loop last week admitted his role and told investigat­ors the victim “might 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 against Michael Byrnes, 41, as he headed home from work, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

The fatal attack comes as the Chicago Police Department and the CTA continue to struggle to get a handle on the pervasive violent crime affecting the transit system.

During a bail hearing Wednesday, prosecutor­s said Byrnes left the restaurant he managed around 10:55 p.m. and went to catch a train at the La Salle/Van Buren stop, 121. W. Van Buren St. Surveillan­ce footage then shows Rawls and another person approach Byrnes.

After hitting Byrnes in the face and chest and knocking him to the ground, Rawls and the other person briefly walked away, prosecutor­s said. They returned and began dragging Byrnes as Rawls kicked and swung at him.

Rawls then pinned Byrnes to a pillar at the station while the other attacker stabbed him in the upper body, prosecutor­s said. A witness called 911 after hearing “grunting noises” and watching the two run south on La Salle after committing what she thought was only a robbery.

Byrnes was rushed to Northweste­rn Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead from stab wounds to his neck, chest and back.

Detectives reviewed video that showed Rawls and the other person jumping into a Monte Carlo registered to Rawls, prosecutor­s said. Video and license plate readers were used to track the car to his home in Washington Park, where Byrnes’ phone pinged and was discovered in an alley.

Two officers who had stopped the car in July were able to identify Rawls, who 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.

During a news conference Wednesday at police headquarte­rs, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said Rawls’ accomplice has been identified but remains at large. Deenihan wouldn’t say whether a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

After first denying he was involved in the attack, Rawls confessed to stealing Byrnes’ phone and cash when he was presented with some of the evidence, prosecutor­s said. He then cast “most of the blame” on his accomplice but eventually admitted to striking Byrnes and holding him up during the stabbing.

Rawls wasn’t remorseful and insisted to investigat­ors that Byrnes “should not have fought back,” noting if he had “just laid there, then he might still be alive.” He has no criminal history, prosecutor­s said.

He was ordered held without bail at the prosecutor­s’ request.

 ?? ?? Anthony Rawls Jr.
Anthony Rawls Jr.

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